A South East Asian perspective of neuropsychiatric startle syndromes of latah


      • Latah, a culture-specific syndrome, presents with various phenotypes namely echolalia, echopraxia, coprolalia, palilalia, exaggerated startle, involuntary vocalization and forced obedience.
      • Similar culture-specific syndromes occur in many parts of the world and they are often overlooked as they are considered as part of a cultural behavior.
      • Culture-specific syndromes cause significant psychosocial impacts on the sufferer.
      • Latah, presenting with startle reflex or hyperekplexia as a movement disorder is stimulus-induced by noise, movement or touch.


      Latah is a culture-specific syndrome characterized by exaggerated startle response, echolalia, palilalia, echopraxia, coprolalia, forced obedience and involuntary vocalization in response to startle. Latah is stimulus-induced and is associated with behavior and psychiatric features. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive description on latah from a regional perspective based on previous literature and clinical experiences and highlight the clinical characteristics of latah from a movement disorders perspective. The pathophysiology of latah is complex and poorly understood although psychological stressors have been implicated. In view of the distressing psychosocial impact of latah, this neuropsychiatric startle syndrome warrants further studies to understand the pathophysiology and identify the appropriate treatments.


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