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Neurology. 2011 Jul 19;77(3):264-8. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182217ee8. Epub 2011 May 18.

Probing consciousness with event-related potentials in the vegetative state.

Author information

1
AP-HP, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, Department of Neurophysiology, Paris, France.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Probing consciousness in noncommunicating patients is a major medical and neuroscientific challenge. While standardized and expert behavioral assessment of patients constitutes a mandatory step, this clinical evaluation stage is often difficult and doubtful, and calls for complementary measures which may overcome its inherent limitations. Several functional brain imaging methods are currently being developed within this perspective, including fMRI and cognitive event-related potentials (ERPs). We recently designed an original rule extraction ERP test that is positive only in subjects who are conscious of the long-term regularity of auditory stimuli.

METHODS:

In the present work, we report the results of this test in a population of 22 patients who met clinical criteria for vegetative state.

RESULTS:

We identified 2 patients showing this neural signature of consciousness. Interestingly, these 2 patients showed unequivocal clinical signs of consciousness within the 3 to 4 days following ERP recording.

CONCLUSIONS:

Taken together, these results strengthen the relevance of bedside neurophysiological tools to improve diagnosis of consciousness in noncommunicating patients.

PMID:
21593438
PMCID:
PMC3136052
DOI:
10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182217ee8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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