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glossary - n

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Nerve fibres  – groups of neurones bunched together.

Nerves  – groups of nerve cell axons, bunched together.

Nervous system – one of the 'systems' or parts of the body. It includes the brain, spinal cord and nerves.

Neurological condition – a medical condition that affects the nervous system. Epilepsy is an example of a neurological condition.

Neurologist – a doctor who specialises in neurological conditions (conditions that affect the nervous system).

Neurones – the scientific name for nerve cells. The brain is made up of millions of neurones. Neurones control all of the body’s functions by communicating using electrical signals. These electrical signals can be picked up on an EEG.

Neurofibromatosis (NF) – a genetic condition that causes benign tumours to grow on the covering of nerves. NF can cause epilepsy.

Neuropsychiatrist – a medically trained doctor who specialises in mental health problems that happen because of neurological conditions and conditions that affect the way the brain works.

Neuropsychologist – somebody who works with people with neurological conditions to look at how brain function affects behaviour, learning ability, language and memory.

Neurosurgery – an operation on the brain, spine or nerves. There are many reasons why someone might have neurosurgery: following an accident, because of an infection or to remove a tumour. Surgery that is done to try and reduce or stop a person’s seizures is often called 'brain surgery' or ‘epilepsy surgery’.

Neurotransmitters  – chemicals that help to send messages from one neurone to another.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) – an independent organisation that publishes national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health. It produces guidelines on different health conditions, including the clinical guideline ‘The epilepsies: the diagnosis and management of the epilepsies in adults and children in primary and secondary care’.

Nocturnal seizures – sometimes called 'asleep seizures', these seizures happen when someone is asleep. These seizures are related to sleep. While most people have nocturnal seizures while they are sleeping at night (which is why they are called nocturnal or 'nighttime'), if they fall asleep during the day they could have asleep seizures. This term does not say what sort of seizures happen, only when they happen.

Non-enzyme-inducing - drugs that do not increase the amount of enzymes in the liver.

Non-epileptic seizures (NES) – seizures that look very like epileptic seizures but have a different cause. Epileptic seizures are caused by interrupted brain activity; non-epileptic seizures are not due to interrupted brain activity, and can have many different causes. Often, the term non-epileptic seizure describes a seizure with a psychological cause. Other names for NES are dissociative seizures, non-organic seizures or psychogenic seizures (caused by the mind rather than the body). Sometimes they are called ‘pseudoseizures’ but we tend to avoid this term because it suggests the seizures are not real or they are ‘put on’. Someone who has non-epileptic seizures might be told that they have ‘non-epileptic attack disorder’ or ‘NEAD’.

Nucleus of the tractus solitarius (NTS)  – part of the medulla of the brain, where many of the fibres of the vagus nerve end.