Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Extensive Brain Activity During Listening To Speech Found In Minimally Conscious Patients

Date:
February 15, 2005
Source:
Columbia University Medical Center
Summary:
Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian-Hospital-Weill Cornell Campus, and JKF Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in New Jersey have found that some seemingly unconscious patients with severe brain damage are, in fact, capable of responding to speech.

New York, NY (Feb. 7, 2005) – Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian-Hospital-Weill Cornell Campus, and JKF Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in New Jersey have found that some seemingly unconscious patients with severe brain damage are, in fact, capable of responding to speech.

Related Articles


“The results challenge our thinking about the possible inner lives these patients may experience, and also motivate renewed interest in research aimed at recovery and rehabilitation,” said the study’s senior author, Joy Hirsch, Ph.D., professor of neuroradiology and psychology and director of the fMRI Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center. “Brain imaging can be thought of as giving a voice to minimally conscious patients and allows us as physicians and scientists to be more aware about the patient’s potential for rehabilitation.”

Patients in minimally conscious states can open their eyes and move their arms about, similar to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state. However, minimally conscious patients can sometimes demonstrate that they are aware of themselves or their environment. They can occasionally say words, follow commands such as “move your eyes to the left,” and respond to questions about their emotions. At other times they are unresponsive.

In the present study, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at the brain activity of two minimally conscious patients. One, 21, had experienced a sudden brain hemorrhage; the second, 33, suffered a blunt head trauma.

While the patients were in the imaging machines, they listened to audio recordings made by a family member reminiscing about weddings, birthdays, or other experiences shared by the two. The same procedure was repeated with seven healthy and fully conscious subjects.

“Our hypothesis was that these patients would show neurocircuitry that was only partially intact. In other words, if five regions of the brain are needed for understanding speech, only three would be present,” said Dr. Hirsch. “What we saw surprised us. It was a very haunting finding. Both patients, though one more than the other, had patterns of brain activity that were indistinguishable from the normal subjects while they were listening to spoken narratives.”

In the second patient, even the visual area of the brain lit up during the audio playback, though the patient had his eyes closed. “We speculate, although we don’t know for sure, that the audio conjured up images in the patient’s mind,” said Dr. Hirsch. “It looks to us that, in at least some minimally conscious patients, the brain’s circuitry may still be intact, and that’s very encouraging,” Dr. Hirsch says. “It’s possible that these patients could benefit from therapeutic interventions and there are now a number of trials on the horizon.”

The findings were published in the Feb. 8th issue of Neurology.

###

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, medical education, and health care. The medical center trains future leaders in health care and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and other health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the School of Dental & Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. With a strong history of some of the most important advances and discoveries in health care, its researchers are leading the development of novel therapies and advances to address a wide range of health conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Columbia University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Columbia University Medical Center. "Extensive Brain Activity During Listening To Speech Found In Minimally Conscious Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050211090900.htm>.
Columbia University Medical Center. (2005, February 15). Extensive Brain Activity During Listening To Speech Found In Minimally Conscious Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050211090900.htm
Columbia University Medical Center. "Extensive Brain Activity During Listening To Speech Found In Minimally Conscious Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050211090900.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins