Auditory stimuli are proposed as beneficial neurorehabilitation methods in patients with disorders of consciousness. However, precise and accurate quantitative indices to estimate their potential effect remain scarce. Fourteen patients were recruited from the Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit of Hangzhou Hospital of Zhejiang Armed Police Corps of China. Altogether, there were seven cases of unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (five males and two females, aged 45.7 ± 16.8 years) and seven cases of minimally conscious state (six males and one female, aged 42.3 ± 20.8 years). Simultaneously, fourteen healthy controls (10 males and 4 females, aged 51.7 ± 9.7 years) also participated in this case-control experiment. Brain response to music, subjects' own name, and noise was monitored by quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) in the resting state and with acoustic stimulation. Predictive QEEG values in various brain regions were investigated. Our results show that cerebral activation was high in subjects stimulated by their own name, especially in the temporal lobe in patients with disorders of consciousness, and the frontal lobe in the control group. Further, during resting and stimulation, QEEG index (δ + θ/α + β ratio) negatively correlated with the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised score in traumatic disorders of consciousness patients. Hence, we speculate that a subject's own name might be an effective awakening therapy for patients with disorders of consciousness. Moreover, QEEG index in specific stimulation states may be used as a prognostic indicator for disorders of consciousness patients (sensitivity, 75%; specificity, 50%). This clinical study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (identifier: NCT03385291).
Keywords: Coma Recovery Scale-Revised; auditory stimulation; awakening; disorders of consciousness; frontal lobe; music; nerve regeneration; neural regeneration; neuroplasticity; quantitative electroencephalography; subjects' own name; white noise.