AirTalk for February 4, 2010

Are vegetative patients able to think?

Mercer 6586

The New England Journal of Medicine © 2010

Communication scans from the study "Willful Modulation of Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness"

In a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers report that a form of brain scanning could be used to determine the consciousness of patients who appear to be in a persistent vegetative state. Using functional magnetic resonance, five patients showed brain activity that indicated awareness and intent, with one patient able to communicate 'yes' and 'no' answers. The findings, all in subjects with traumatic brain injuries, could lead to a test to determine a patient's consciousness, as well as inform a family's decision to continue or end life support.

The study "Willful Modulation of Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness,"published in The New England Journal of Medicine

Guests:

Dr. Allan H. Ropper, author of editorial accompanying study in The New England Journal of Medicine; neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

Dr. Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, Neurologist and Director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at UC San Francisco


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