Detecting awareness after severe brain injury

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 Nov;14(11):801-9. doi: 10.1038/nrn3608. Epub 2013 Oct 3.


Recent developments in functional neuroimaging have provided a number of new tools for assessing patients who clinically appear to be in a vegetative state. These techniques have been able to reveal awareness and even allow rudimentary communication in some patients who remain entirely behaviourally non-responsive. The implications of these results extend well beyond the immediate clinical and scientific findings to influencing legal proceedings, raising new ethical questions about the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration and providing new options for patients and families in that decision-making process. The findings have also motivated significant public discourse about the role of neuroscience research in society.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Neuroimaging / trends*
  • Persistent Vegetative State / diagnosis
  • Prevalence