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Reggae star triggers seizures in Rosedale woman

"As soon as the first beat came in, I would have a seizure," the 25-year-old Rosedale resident said at a news conference last week at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. She had successful surgery Oct. 3 to treat the seizures, known as musicogenic epilepsy.Only five cases of the disorder have been documented worldwide, according to Dr. Ashesh Mehta, the director of epilepsy surgery at LIJ.In Gayle's case, reggae artist Sean Paul's hit "Temperature" triggered her seizures."I was very surprised because that was one of my favorite artists," she said.Gayle said the song was playing during a barbecue she attended in 2006, although she did not realize the connection between "Temperature" and the episode at the time.After waking up in a hospital, she noticed that the same song was playing after suffering a seizure before the barbecue. Before Gayle underwent surgery, she had electrodes implanted and a radioactive isotope injected into her brain at LIJ to determine where the seizures were originating from. A PET scan was performed while Gayle played "Temperature" on her iPod and she had a seizure. Mehta said he found "abnormal activity" in Gayle's right temporal lobe Ð a section of the brain that perceives music Ð and a 1-inch by 3-inch section of her brain was removed during surgery.While doctors know music can trigger seizures, why that is so is unclear, Mehta said."It's really poorly misunderstood," he said.More than three months following surgery, Gayle has remained seizure-free, although she takes anti-convulsant medication. She had previously been on drugs to prevent seizures but they had been unsuccessful.Gayle has now resumed activities she put on hold when she started having seizures at age 21, including singing in her church choir and working as a customer service associate for a bank.She recently returned from vacation in her native Canada, where she went skiing and ice skating.Listening to Sean Paul no longer worries Gayle, she said."I just bought his CD," she said, noting that the artist is among her top friends on her MySpace page. "Every time before, I would have to brace myself" for a seizure.Gayle said she had a sense that a seizure was about to happen Ð something she called "an aura."It was a weird sensation, like a tingling in your head," she said. Gayle is currently studying childhood education at York College in Jamaica and plans to become a teacher.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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