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 ")

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

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

New Brain Scanner Lets You Move Around
'In Bob Arctor's living room his thousand dollar custom-quality cephscope crafted by Altec...' - Philip K. Dick, 1977.

 

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

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

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

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

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.