04 February 2010

Study Shows That Some Patients In Vegetative States Are Able To Communicate

Monti M et al. N Engl J Med 2010;10.1056/NEJMoa0905370
Using a newly developed brain scan technique, researchers in the U.K. and Belgium revealed that some patients in vegetative states or states of minimal consciousness show signs of awareness, and in one exceptional case, could even answer yes/no questions posed by doctors during a visualization exercise. The findings, published online this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that previous tests to assess patients' cognition may not fully tap into all potential aspects of awareness. The 29-year-old patient who, on brain scans exhibited responses to yes/no questions, had been in a vegetative state for five years. As one of the study's authors, Martin Monti of the Medical Research Council Cognitive and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, England, summed it up to the Associated Press, "We were stunned when this happened... I find it literally amazing."
Source: Time

Read Willful Modulation of Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness at The New England Journal of Medicine

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