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Redefining the Vegetative State: How Imaging Measures Consciousness

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Redefining the Vegetative State: How Imaging Measures Consciousness

Dr. Adrian Owen explains how MRI can give doctors a better understanding of residual brain function in patients with impaired consciousness.
  • Overview

    Vegetative state is commonly defined as "wakefulness with awareness."  Patients with a vegetative state diagnosis will show only reflex behavior, are not able to follow commands and are unable to communicate.  This barrier in the inability for patients to communicate can make it difficult for doctors to measure their level of consciousness.  In fact, some patients who are believed to be in a completely vegetative state may be more aware of what's going on than people realize.

    Host Brian McDonough joins Dr. Adrian Owen, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University. They talk about how the use of MRI technology is aiding doctors in measuring the level of consciousness in patients under vegetative states.

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