Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Measuring the dialogue between cortical areas in non-communicating patients

Date:
January 6, 2012
Source:
University of Liège
Summary:
Measuring the level of internal brain communication allows single-subject discrimination between vegetative state patients and patients who recover a minimal level of consciousness, study suggests. Crucially, this can be obtained at the bedside and does not rely on the integrity of sensory and motor pathways nor on the subject’s ability to comprehend or carry out instructions.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with the electroencephalogram allows to measure the electrical response of the brain to a direct and non-invasive perturbation.
Credit: Copyright Liege-Milan University

We know that conscious experience can be entirely generated within the brain as in the case, for instance, when we dream and we are completely disconnected from the external world. However, we normally assess another individual's level of consciousness solely based on her/his ability to interact with the external environment. This discrepancy becomes particularly relevant in the case of patients who survive severe brain injuries, who may recover consciousness without recovering their ability to understand, move and communicate.

Related Articles


Thanks to a collaboration between the group of Marcello Massimini from the University of Milan, Italy, and the group of Steven Laureys from the University of Liège, Belgium, the work published in Brain shows that measuring the level of internal brain communication allows single-subject discrimination between vegetative state (VS) patients and patients who recover a minimal level of consciousness (MCS). Crucially, this can be obtained at the bedside and does not rely on the integrity of sensory and motor pathways nor on the subject's ability to comprehend or carry out instructions. This finding is relevant because distinguishing between VS and MCS patients can be extremely challenging, leading to a diagnostic error up to 40%1.

To achieve these results, the two research groups have employed a novel approach based on the combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) at the bedside of 17 brain-injured patients who evolved from coma into different clinical states. TMS/EEG allows measuring directly and non-invasively the internal brain communication, a theoretical requirement for consciousness to emerge. As demonstrated by previous experiments, this approach readily distinguishes between conditions in which consciousness is present (alert wakefulness, dreaming)2 and conditions in which consciousness is reduced, or lost (sleep and anesthesia)3-4.

In VS patients, behaviorally awake with their eyes open, but unresponsive, TMS/EEG revealed a breakdown of the internal brain communication, similar to the one previously observed in sleep or anesthesia; by contrast, in MCS patients, who recovered a minimal level of consciousness, TMS invariably revealed a preserved, effective communication between brain areas, irrespectively of the individual patient's ability to communicate.

These findings suggest that "knocking" directly on the brain (with TMS) to assess its capacity for internal communication (with EEG) may represent an effective way to track the neural correlates of recovery of consciousness in brain-injured, non-communicating patients.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Mario Rosanova, Olivia Gosseries, Silvia Casarotto, Mélanie Boly, Adenauer G. Casali, Marie-Aurélie Bruno, Maurizio Mariotti, Pierre Boveroux, Giulio Tononi, Steven Laureys, And Marcello Massimini. Recovery of cortical effective connectivity and recovery of consciousness in vegetative patients. Brain, Jan 2012 DOI: 10.1093/brain/awr340

Cite This Page:

University of Liège. "Measuring the dialogue between cortical areas in non-communicating patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106110214.htm>.
University of Liège. (2012, January 6). Measuring the dialogue between cortical areas in non-communicating patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106110214.htm
University of Liège. "Measuring the dialogue between cortical areas in non-communicating patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120106110214.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Phoenix hospital is experimenting with a faster way to test much needed medications for deadly brain tumors. Patients get a single dose of a potential drug, and hours later have their tumor removed to see if the drug had any affect. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Bedtime Rituals For a Good Night's Sleep

The Best Bedtime Rituals For a Good Night's Sleep

Buzz60 (Jan. 22, 2015) — What you do before bed can effect how well you sleep. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has bedtime rituals to induce the best night&apos;s sleep. Video provided by Buzz60
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