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Curr Biol. 2017 Sep 25;27(18):R994-R996. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.060.

Restoring consciousness with vagus nerve stimulation.

Author information

1
Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod, UMR5229, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Bron, France; Claude Bernard University of Lyon I, Lyon, France.
2
Neurological Hospital Pierre Wertheimer, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France.
3
Claude Bernard University of Lyon I, Lyon, France; Neurological Hospital Pierre Wertheimer, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France.
4
Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod, UMR5229, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Bron, France; Claude Bernard University of Lyon I, Lyon, France. Electronic address: sirigu@isc.cnrs.fr.

Abstract

Patients lying in a vegetative state present severe impairments of consciousness [1] caused by lesions in the cortex, the brainstem, the thalamus and the white matter [2]. There is agreement that this condition may involve disconnections in long-range cortico-cortical and thalamo-cortical pathways [3]. Hence, in the vegetative state cortical activity is 'deafferented' from subcortical modulation and/or principally disrupted between fronto-parietal regions. Some patients in a vegetative state recover while others persistently remain in such a state. The neural signature of spontaneous recovery is linked to increased thalamo-cortical activity and improved fronto-parietal functional connectivity [3]. The likelihood of consciousness recovery depends on the extent of brain damage and patients' etiology, but after one year of unresponsive behavior, chances become low [1]. There is thus a need to explore novel ways of repairing lost consciousness. Here we report beneficial effects of vagus nerve stimulation on consciousness level of a single patient in a vegetative state, including improved behavioral responsiveness and enhanced brain connectivity patterns.

PMID:
28950091
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.060
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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