Department of Neurology

Computer monitor flicker and seizures

Q: We have an assistive technology information and referral program at our Rehabilitation Engineering Center at Stanford. I had a question from a client who is looking for information on choosing a computer monitor for someone who has seizures. Is there information on band width, etc. that would be helpful for a person trying to select a monitor to reduce the possibility of a seizure?

Thank you for your assistance

A: I don't believe there is direct information about this. Assuming your client is photosensitive (most persons are not) there are two potential sources -- the first from pattern changes from the program (such as flashing objects in a video game), the second from the refresh rate (bandwidth) of the monitor. With respect to the first source, it would be best to avoid programs that blink (most business programs, such as word processors and spreadsheets, are usually bland). Purchasing monitors with high refresh rates (e.g., 80 Hz) will help reduce monitor flicker although I don't believe there is specific data to show that the lower refresh rate monitors (e.g., 60 Hz) are necessarily riskier. This probably would make an interesting research study.

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