Until now these tests have not been performed in this type of patient. The results show activation of the auditory and linguistic areas of the brain despite the absence of observable behavioural responses.
The aim of this study is “to analyse the response of the brain to language in a group of traumatised patients in a vegetative state or in a minimally responsive state”. The patients were examined using the technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging”, explains Carme Junqué to SINC, who is the principal researcher of the project at the University of Barcelona (UB) in collaboration with the University Institute of Neurorehabilitation in Guttman.
To test the areas of the brain involved in language comprehension in these patients showing no evidence of motor response, the research team performed magnetic resonance imaging on seven patients, three of whom were in a vegetative state and four in a minimally responsive state.
In this study, which will continue until the end of 2010, four of the seven patients showed cerebral activation in response to sound comparable to activation found in 19 healthy volunteers. Amongst these, there was one patient in a vegetative state and another in a minimally responsive state who both showed an appropriate activation in the areas of the brain involved with language processing when listening to various extracts from stories.
Until now the routine clinical tests these patients underwent, were not capable of detecting whether or not there was a cerebral response to language. However, the researcher tells SINC “although they look or cry, we do not know whether or not the patient is processing the information, whether they do it automatically or whether they do it consciously.
The interesting thing about the results obtained with the magnetic resonance imaging is that the evidence of comprehension of the language stimulus means a better prognosis and a change in the way they are treated by relatives and therapists.
The results show that when some of these patients listen to extracts from stories, for example short sentences such as “a person is walking by the sea and is listening to the waves”, complex areas of the brain are activated, “which suggests that the patients possess areas of perception in the brain where the information arrives”, the researcher confirms to SINC.
Studies such as this one do not make it possible to conclude that the patients “understand” language in the way that healthy people do, but they do confirm that the patient’s neural networks still work to guarantee this complex cognitive function. “As a result, this can lead to a substantial change in the motivation of carers and can be very useful in choosing the rehabilitative interventions”, Junqué emphasises.
What happens after craneoencephalic trauma?
After serious craneoencephalic trauma the patient experiences a phase of coma. Following this they can recover consciousness or progress towards what we call “a vegetative state”, which is characterised by the preservation of sleep-wake cycles, the autonomic control of respiratory and cardiac functions, and the absence of any evidence of self-awareness or the surroundings.
Patients are incapable of reacting to stimulation intentionally and do not show any ability to communicate. A patient can survive for years in a vegetative state or recover partial consciousness progressing towards what is known as a “minimally responsive state”.
Until now, the diagnosis of these patients has been based on exhaustive clinical assessments of the patient’s spontaneous behaviour in order to assess whether the patient is capable of perceiving or interacting with their surroundings, namely, whether they have the preserved complex mental capabilities in the absence of motor response.
At the present time, there is an intense debate in the clinical, legal and ethical domains about the suitability of the assessment protocols used for the diagnosis of these patients and the possibility of implementing rehabilitation programmes more suited to individual differences.
SINC Team | alfa
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering