Preserved oscillatory response but lack of mismatch negativity in patients with disorders of consciousness

Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Sep;122(9):1744-54. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2011.02.009. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


Objective: The diagnostic validity of non-phase-locked oscillations (NPLOs) and mismatch negativity (MMN) in an oddball task for assessing attentional reactivity in patients with disordered consciousness was examined.

Methods: Patients in a minimally conscious (MCS, n = 6) or vegetative (VS, n = 16) state and healthy controls (n = 15) were assessed. MMN and NPLOs were analyzed with single-subject, non-parametric statistics.

Results: In 11 healthy controls and 2 VS patients, MMN was detected. More subjects showed NPLO differences in the alpha than in the theta or beta frequency ranges. In 14 healthy controls, 4 MCS patients, and 5 VS patients, lower amplitudes after deviants were found in the alpha frequency range. One healthy subject and one VS patient showed higher amplitudes after deviants.

Conclusions: Neither ERPs nor NPLOs could reliably distinguish MCS from VS patients. However, NPLOs were more sensitive than ERPs for detecting significantly different activity, and they possibly identified preserved processing better than ERPs.

Significance: Intact neurophysiological attentional responses observed in the NPLOs of VS patients may indicate a need for other diagnostic techniques. Inter-individual differences in the direction of the effect should be considered as normal variance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Persistent Vegetative State / diagnosis*
  • Persistent Vegetative State / physiopathology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric