sabato 2 dicembre 2017

NEWS FROM THE WORLD- Minimally conscious state or cortically mediated state?


Durable impairments of consciousness are currently classified in three main neurological categories: comatose state, vegetative state (also recently coined unresponsive wakefulness syndrome) and minimally conscious state. While the introduction of minimally conscious state, in 2002, was a major progress to help clinicians recognize complex non-reflexive behaviours in the absence of functional communication, it raises several problems. The most important issue related to minimally conscious state lies in its criteria: while behavioural definition of minimally conscious state lacks any direct evidence of patient’s conscious content or conscious state, it includes the adjective ‘conscious’. I discuss this major problem in this review and propose a novel interpretation of minimally conscious state: its criteria do not inform us about the potential residual consciousness of patients, but they do inform us with certainty about the presence of a cortically mediated state. Based on this constructive criticism review, I suggest three proposals aiming at improving the way we describe the subjective and cognitive state of non-communicating patients. In particular, I present a tentative new classification of impairments of consciousness that combines behavioural evidence with functional brain imaging data, in order to probe directly and univocally residual conscious processes.

Brain 2017

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