Everyone assumed a 6-year-old girl in Bolivia was misbehaving when she giggled uncontrollably at inappropriate times. But, as it turns out, the little girl was suffering from a brain tumor that caused her to experience bouts of laughter called gelastic seizures, the Daily News reports.
“She was considered spoiled, crazy, even devil-possessed,” said Dr. Jose Liders Burgos Zuleta of Advanced Medical Image Centre in a statement.
When doctors examined the young girl and she was given a brain scan, they found a small, benign tumor called a hamartoma that was pressing up against her brain’s temporal lobe, reports CBS News. Surgeons were able to remove the tumor and the girl is healthy now.
Cases like these are extremely rare, according to Dr. Solomon Moshe, the director of pediatric neurology and clinical neurophysiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Moshe says a type of surgery was developed in Australia that removes the tumor without causing injury to the brain. Gelastic seizures start in infancy for one-third of documented patients, but diagnosing the problem can be complex, reports Science World Report.
Although laughter is a symptom of the health condition, doctors stress that the child is not experiencing joy and that he or she may feel very uncomfortable at the time of the seizure. It is sometimes accompanied by other seizure symptoms, as well.