Cognitive event-related potentials in comatose and post-comatose states

Neurocrit Care. 2008;8(2):262-70. doi: 10.1007/s12028-007-9016-0.


We review the interest of cognitive event-related potentials (ERPs) in comatose, vegetative, or minimally conscious patients. Auditory cognitive ERPs are useful to investigate residual cognitive functions, such as echoic memory (MMN), acoustical and semantic discrimination (P300), and incongruent language detection (N400). While early ERPs (such as the absence of cortical responses on somatosensory-evoked potentials) predict bad outcome, cognitive ERPs (MMN and P300) are indicative of recovery of consciousness. In coma-survivors, cognitive potentials are more frequently obtained when using stimuli that are more ecologic or have an emotional content (such as the patient's own name) than when using classical sine tones.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Coma / metabolism
  • Coma / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Persistent Vegetative State / physiopathology
  • Reaction Time
  • Survivors