Measuring Awareness In Comatose Patients

Neuroscientists in Belgium are attempting to quantify consciousness in patients who are living in a vegetative or minimally conscious state.

To derive a numerical measure of consciousness, [Melanie Boly, a postdoctoral fellow at the Belgian National Fund for Research in Liege, Belgium] and her colleagues pulsed subjects’ heads with a brief electromagnetic wave, then measured neural responses using electrodes stuck to the scalp.

In 32 healthy, awake people, the electromagnetic impulse sent complex patterns of electrical activity reverberating throughout the brain. In healthy sleeping people, or people under general anaesthesia, the brain displayed shorter, simpler responses that stayed closer to the site of the initial stimulation. The researchers quantified these differences in a measure of response complexity.

In six patients diagnosed as vegetative, the electromagnetic pulse elicited responses with complexity indices similar to those in sleeping or anaesthetized healthy subjects. Twelve minimally conscious patients showed slightly more complex responses. And two ‘locked-in’ patients — people who are fully conscious but unable to move or communicate — showed complexity indices similar to healthy, awake subjects.

Philip K. Dick wrote about a science-fictional technology that is similar. In his 1969 novel Ubik, newly deceased persons who were preserved in a cold-pac bin could be communicated with. Their brains exhibited what was called "half-life", which could be perceived with a protophason amplifier:

"Twill only be a moment," Herbert made his way back to the cold-pac bins to search out number 3054039-B.

When he located the correct party he scrutinized the lading report attached. It gave only fifteen days of half-life remaining. Not very much, he reflected; automatically he pressed a portable protophason amplifier into the transparent plastic hull of the casket, tuned it, listened at the proper frequency for indication of cephalic activity.

Faintly from the speaker a voice said, "... and then Tillie sprained her ankle and we never thought it'd heal...

From Reuters via Frolix_8.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/19/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Ontario Starts Guaranteed Minimum Income
'Earned by just being born.'

Is There Life In Outer Space? Will We Recognize It?
'The antennae of the Life Detector atop the OP swept back and forth...'

Space Traumapod For Surgery In Spacecraft
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'

Tesla Augmented Reality Hypercard
'The hypercard is an avatar of sorts.'

A Space Ship On My Back
''Darn clever, these suits,' he murmured.'

Biomind AI Doctor Mops Floor With Human Doctors
'My aim was just not to lose by too much.' - Human Physician participant.

Fuli Bad Dog Robot Is 'Auspicious Raccoon Dog' Bot
Bad dog, Fuli. Bad dog.

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'

Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.