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What Is Kluver-Bucy Syndrome?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2014
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Kluver-Bucy syndrome is a disorder involving damage to the temporal lobes on both sides of the brain, causing behavioral changes in the patient. This condition cannot be cured, but it is possible to manage it with supportive care including medication and assistance with daily tasks, if a patient has trouble with regular activities. People with Kluver-Bucy syndrome may need aides to provide assistance when they engage in socially inappropriate or dangerous behaviors without being aware of it.

This condition was initially documented after surgeries involving the temporal lobes of the brain. It can also be seen with strokes, progressive diseases, cancer, and other conditions involving the brain. If enough of the temporal lobe is damaged or destroyed, the patient can experience one or more symptoms of Kluver-Bucy syndrome, and medical imaging will reveal damage to the brain.

Patients with this condition tend to have docile behavior, and they have limited fear and flight responses. This can put them in danger, as they may end up in dangerous situations or engage in dangerous activities without knowing what they are doing. If someone threatens the patient, the patient also cannot take defensive action. Patients can also experience agnosia, where they do not recognize people and objects that are normally known to them.

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Kluver-Bucy syndrome is also associated with hypersexuality, which may be accompanied with inappropriate sexual advances on people the patient encounters. Patients can also develop hyperoral behaviors. Much like infants, they feel compelled to explore things with their mouths and may mouth things that are not safe, posing a potential risk. In addition, many develop inappropriate eating habits, eating to the point of injury or eating objects that are not food items, like erasers.

Patients rarely experience all of these symptoms with Kluver-Bucy syndrome. Instead, one or more can be observed and may be linked with damage in the temporal lobes, allowing a doctor to accurately diagnose this condition. Treatment can involve medications to address specific concerns such as mood changes, along with therapy. With occupational therapy, patients may learn to manage the symptoms of their condition so they can interact safely with other people.

Some patients develop dementia, memory loss, seizures, and/or depression. These patients may not be able to live fully independently and may require an aide or assistant, or hospitalization in a facility designed to provide services to patients with brain damage. It is important to make sure patients receive adequate support before they are injured or endangered.

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