EEG shows awareness in some vegetative patients
Researchers have discovered they can detect conscious awareness in some patients thought to be in a permanent vegetative state using an inexpensive EEG device that measures electrical activity in the brain.
The use of an electroencephalography, or EEG, machine, which can easily be transported to a patient’s bedside, follows an earlier breakthrough employing a functional MRI scanner to determine whether some people in a vegetative state were in fact consciously aware but unable to physically respond to stimuli.
 
"The vegetative state is often referred to as a condition of wakefulness without awareness, and that’s because these patients open their eyes, they often appear to look fleetingly around the room, but certainly there’s never any signs they’re actually aware," said principal researcher Dr. Adrian Owen of the Centre for Brain and Mind at the University of Western Ontario.
"They don’t actually respond to anything in the outside world, so you can’t attract their attention, you can’t make them look in one direction or another," Owen said Wednesday during a webcast to describe the research.
Owen and a team of scientists at the London, Ont., centre, Cambridge University in the U.K., and the University of Liege in Belgium collaborated on this latest research, published online by The Lancet.

Using EEG machines, researchers tested 16 patients who had been diagnosed as being in a vegetative state following brain injury. The patients ranged in age from 29 to 45 and had various types of brain injuries. One man had been unresponsive for almost two years.
After having electrodes attached to their scalp, each patient was first asked to imagine making their right hand into a fist, then to move the toes of both feet. The EEG would record any electrical signals in the brain following each command. Identical EEG testing was performed on 12 healthy volunteers.
Three of the patients repeatedly generated electrical brain activity that matched responses seen in healthy volunteers: the same areas of the pre-frontal cortex, located at or near the top of brain, lit up on a monitor after they were given the two distinct commands.
(read more)

EEG shows awareness in some vegetative patients

Researchers have discovered they can detect conscious awareness in some patients thought to be in a permanent vegetative state using an inexpensive EEG device that measures electrical activity in the brain.

The use of an electroencephalography, or EEG, machine, which can easily be transported to a patient’s bedside, follows an earlier breakthrough employing a functional MRI scanner to determine whether some people in a vegetative state were in fact consciously aware but unable to physically respond to stimuli.

"The vegetative state is often referred to as a condition of wakefulness without awareness, and that’s because these patients open their eyes, they often appear to look fleetingly around the room, but certainly there’s never any signs they’re actually aware," said principal researcher Dr. Adrian Owen of the Centre for Brain and Mind at the University of Western Ontario.

"They don’t actually respond to anything in the outside world, so you can’t attract their attention, you can’t make them look in one direction or another," Owen said Wednesday during a webcast to describe the research.

Owen and a team of scientists at the London, Ont., centre, Cambridge University in the U.K., and the University of Liege in Belgium collaborated on this latest research, published online by The Lancet.

Using EEG machines, researchers tested 16 patients who had been diagnosed as being in a vegetative state following brain injury. The patients ranged in age from 29 to 45 and had various types of brain injuries. One man had been unresponsive for almost two years.

After having electrodes attached to their scalp, each patient was first asked to imagine making their right hand into a fist, then to move the toes of both feet. The EEG would record any electrical signals in the brain following each command. Identical EEG testing was performed on 12 healthy volunteers.

Three of the patients repeatedly generated electrical brain activity that matched responses seen in healthy volunteers: the same areas of the pre-frontal cortex, located at or near the top of brain, lit up on a monitor after they were given the two distinct commands.

(read more)