When thoughts become actions: Neuroimaging in non-responsive patients

Adrian M. Owen

in I Know What You're Thinking

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596492
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191745669 | DOI:
When thoughts become actions: Neuroimaging in non-responsive patients

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In recent years, rapid technological developments in the field of neuroimaging have provided new methods for revealing thoughts, actions and intentions based solely on the pattern of activity that is observed in the brain. In specialized centres, these methods are now being employed routinely in the assessment of patients diagnosed with so-called ‘disorders of consciousness’, mapping patterns of residual function and dysfunction and helping to reduce diagnostic errors between related conditions such as the vegetative and minimally conscious states. In some cases, functional neuroimaging has even been used to detect covert awareness in behaviourally non-responsive patients when standard clinical techniques have been unable to provide that information. In this chapter, those circumstances in which functional neuroimaging data can be used to infer awareness in the absence of a behavioural response will be contrasted with those circumstances in which it cannot. This distinction is fundamental for understanding and interpreting patterns of brain ‘activation’ following acute brain injury.

Keywords: consciousness; awareness; disorders of consciousness; vegetative states; brain activation

Chapter.  8021 words. 

Subjects: Neuroscience

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