Navigation Links
Patient in 'vegetative state' not just aware, but paying attention
Date:10/31/2013

A patient in a seemingly vegetative state, unable to move or speak, showed signs of attentive awareness that had not been detected before, a new study reveals. This patient was able to focus on words signalled by the experimenters as auditory targets as successfully as healthy individuals. If this ability can be developed consistently in certain patients who are vegetative, it could open the door to specialised devices in the future and enable them to interact with the outside world.

The research, by scientists at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (MRC CBSU) and the University of Cambridge, is published today, 31 October, in the journal Neuroimage: Clinical.

For the study, the researchers used electroencephalography (EEG), which non-invasively measures the electrical activity over the scalp, to test 21 patients diagnosed as vegetative or minimally conscious, and eight healthy volunteers. Participants heard a series of different words - one word a second over 90 seconds at a time - while asked to alternatingly attend to either the word 'yes' or the word 'no', each of which appeared 15% of the time. (Some examples of the words used include moss, moth, worm and toad.) This was repeated several times over a period of 30 minutes to detect whether the patients were able to attend to the correct target word.

They found that one of the vegetative patients was able to filter out unimportant information and home in on relevant words they were being asked to pay attention to. Using brain imaging (fMRI), the scientists also discovered that this patient could follow simple commands to imagine playing tennis. They also found that three other minimally conscious patients reacted to novel but irrelevant words, but were unable to selectively pay attention to the target word.

These findings suggest that some patients in a vegetative or minimally conscious state might in fact be able to direct attention to the sounds in the world around them.

Dr Srivas Chennu at the University of Cambridge, said: "Not only did we find the patient had the ability to pay attention, we also found independent evidence of their ability to follow commands information which could enable the development of future technology to help patients in a vegetative state communicate with the outside world.

"In order to try and assess the true level of brain function and awareness that survives in the vegetative and minimally conscious states, we are progressively building up a fuller picture of the sensory, perceptual and cognitive abilities in patients. This study has added a key piece to that puzzle, and provided a tremendous amount of insight into the ability of these patients to pay attention."

Dr Tristan Bekinschtein at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit said: "Our attention can be drawn to something by its strangeness or novelty, or we can consciously decide to pay attention to it. A lot of cognitive neuroscience research tells us that we have distinct patterns in the brain for both forms of attention, which we can measure even when the individual is unable to speak. These findings mean that, in certain cases of individuals who are vegetative, we might be able to enhance this ability and improve their level of communication with the outside world."

This study builds on a joint programme of research at the University of Cambridge and MRC CBSU where a team of researchers have been developing a series of diagnostic and prognostic tools based on brain imaging techniques since 1998. Famously, in 2006 the group was able to use fMRI imaging techniques to establish that a patient in a vegetative state could respond to yes or no questions by indicating different, distinct patterns of brain activity.


'/>"/>

Contact: Genevieve Maul
gm349@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-012-237-65542
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. TGen-led research shows ability to do next-generation sequencing for patients with advanced cancers
2. DNA variants may influence COPD patients response to inhaled bronchodilators
3. Verizon Advances Patient Care With Launch of Mobile Health Software Solution
4. How will stem cell therapies impact patient care?
5. Research shows how aspirin may act on blood platelets to improve survival in colon cancer patients
6. Scientists discover environmental enrichment for TBI patients may counter shrinkage in the brain
7. Appropriate vaccinations schedules for feline patients outlined
8. Better tests for liver toxicity would mean more medicines -- and safer medicines -- for patients
9. Amgen Presents Pooled Analysis Showing AMG 145 Significantly Reduced LDL Cholesterol In Over 1,200 Patients
10. Cell study offers more diabetic patients chance of transplant
11. Gene makes some HIV-infected patients more at risk for fungal disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/31/2016)...   LegacyXChange, Inc. ... LegacyXChange is excited to release its first ... be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed authentic ... also provide potential shareholders a sense of the value ... industry that is notorious for fraud. The video is ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... , March 23, 2016 ... erhöhter Sicherheit Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern ... (NASDAQ: MESG ), ein führender ... das Unternehmen mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals ... Finanzdienstleistungsbranche, wird die Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen ...
(Date:3/21/2016)... Massachusetts , March 22, 2016 ... facial recognition with passcodes for superior security   ... ), a leading provider of secure digital communications services, ... their biometric technology and offer enterprise customers, particularly those ... secure facial recognition and voice authentication within a mobile ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... discussions on a range of subjects including policies, debt and ... Poloz. Speaking at a lecture to the Canadian ... to the country,s inflation target, which is set by both ... "In certain areas there needs to be ... why not sit down and address strategy together?" ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target ... over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is pleased to ... AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval of the ... Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods perform comparably ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, ... Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I ... President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific ...
Breaking Biology Technology: