EEG finds consciousness in people in vegetative state - health - 10 November 2011
Signs of consciousness have been detected in three people previously thought to be in a vegetative state, with the help of a cheap, portable device that can be used at the bedside.
“There’s a man here who technically meets all the internationally agreed criteria for being in a vegetative state, yet he can generate 200 responses [to direct commands] with his brain,” says Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario. “Clearly this guy is not in a true vegetative state. He’s probably as conscious as you or I are.”
In 2005, Owen’s team, used functional MRI to show consciousness in a person who was in a persistent vegetative state, also known as wakeful unconsciousness - where the body still functions but the mind is unresponsive - for the first time. However, fMRI is costly and time-consuming, so his team set about searching for simple and cost-effective solutions for making bedside diagnoses of PVS. Now, they have devised a test that uses the relatively inexpensive and widely available electroencephalogram (EEG).