Navigation Links
Scientists find that individuals in vegetative states can learn
Date:9/20/2009

Scientists have found that some individuals in the vegetative and minimally conscious states, despite lacking the means of reporting awareness themselves, can learn and thereby demonstrate at least a partial consciousness. Their findings are reported in today's (20 September) online edition of Nature Neuroscience.

It is the first time that scientists have tested whether patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states can learn. By establishing that they can, it is believed that this simple test will enable practitioners to assess the patient's consciousness without the need of imaging.

This study was done as a collaborative effort between the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), the University of Cambridge (UK) and the Institute of Cognitive Neurology (Argentina). By using classical Pavlonian conditioning, the researchers played a tone immediately prior to blowing air into a patient's eye. After some time training, the patients would start to blink when the tone played but before the air puff to the eye.

This learning requires conscious awareness of the relation between stimuli - the tone precedes and predicts the puff of air to the eye. This type of learning was not seen in the control subjects, volunteers who had been under anaesthesia.

The researchers believe that the fact that these patients can learn associations shows that they can form memories and that they may benefit from rehabilitation.

Lead author Dr Tristan Bekinschtein, from the University of Cambridge's Wolfson Brain Imaging Unit, said: "This test will hopefully become a useful, simple tool to test for consciousness without the need for imaging or instructions. Additionally, this research suggests that if the patient shows learning, then they are likely to recover to some degree."

In 2006, the Cambridge Impaired Consciousness Group at the Wolfson Brain Imaging Unit showed, using functional imaging, showed that patients in vegetative states (as defined by behavioural assessment in the clinic) can in fact be conscious despite being unable to show consistent voluntary movements.


'/>"/>

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

Related biology news :

1. UCLA scientists make paralyzed rats walk again after spinal-cord injury
2. Scientists pinpoint protein link to fat storage
3. Impact of renewable energy on our oceans must be investigated, say scientists
4. UT scientists discover link between protein and lung disease
5. Alert status area in brain discoved by Hebrew University scientists
6. Master gene that switches on disease-fighting cells identified by scientists
7. Scientists seek new emphases in Arctic climate change research
8. Superscanner helps scientists see into the unknown
9. Scientists use microRNAs to track evolutionary history for first time
10. Michigan Tech scientists identify genes linked to Lou Gehrigs disease
11. Scientists discover new genetic variation that contributes to diabetes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017   Bridge ... health organizations, and MD EMR Systems , ... development partner for GE, have established a partnership ... Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, including ... EMR. These new integrations will ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... Calif. , April 18, 2017  Socionext Inc., a global ... of a media edge server, the M820, which features the company,s ... recognition software provided by Tera Probe, Inc., will be showcased during ... at the NAB show at the Las Vegas ... ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... GARDENS, Fla. , April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... management and secure authentication solutions, today announced that ... by Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to ... IARPA,s Thor program. "Innovation has been ... and IARPA,s Thor program will allow us to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... Federal funding for basic and ... enabler of life-saving medical and other vital technologies — deserves continued support, say leaders ... in the scientific community today in responding to the President’s budget request for Fiscal ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... A recent survey conducted by ... and difficult to control weed in 12 categories of broadleaf crops, fruits and vegetables, ... scientists across the U.S. and Canada participated in the 2016 survey, the second conducted ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 22, 2017 , ... A new Technology Hot Topics ... this August will feature high-level speakers on quantum devices, graphene electronic tattoo sensors, ... Photonics, the largest multidisciplinary optical sciences meeting in North America, will run 6-10 ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... , ... May 23, 2017 , ... Bacterial biofilms, surface ... molecules, can cause diverse pathologies ranging from food poisoning and catheter infections to gum ... is in the tens of billions of dollars per year, there is currently a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: