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See detailLa neuro-imagerie: un outil diagnostique des etats de conscience alteree.
Thonnard, Marie ULg; Boly, Mélanie ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurelie et al

in Medecine Sciences : M/S (2011), 27(1), 77-81

Vegetative and minimally conscious states diagnosis remained a major clinical challenge. New paradigms such as measurement of the global cerebral metabolism, the structural and functional integrity of ... [more ▼]

Vegetative and minimally conscious states diagnosis remained a major clinical challenge. New paradigms such as measurement of the global cerebral metabolism, the structural and functional integrity of fronto-parietal network, or the spontaneous activity in resting state have been shown to be helpful to disentangle vegetative from minimally conscious patients. Active neuroimagery paradigms also allow detecting voluntary and conscious activity in non-communicative patients. The implementation of these methods in clinical routine could permit to reduce the current high rate of misdiagnosis (40%). [less ▲]

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See detailAttitudes towards end-of-life issues in disorders of consciousness : a European survey
Demertzi, Athina ULg; LEDOUX, Didier ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg et al

in Journal of Neurology (2011)

Previous European surveys showed the support of healthcare professionals for treatment withdrawal [i.e., artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) in chronic vegetative state (VS) patients]. The recent ... [more ▼]

Previous European surveys showed the support of healthcare professionals for treatment withdrawal [i.e., artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) in chronic vegetative state (VS) patients]. The recent definition of minimally conscious state (MCS), and possibly research advances (e.g., functional neuroimaging), may have lead to uncertainty regarding potential residual perception and may have influenced opinions of healthcare professionals. The aim of the study was to update the end-of-life attitudes towards VS and to determine the end-of-life attitudes towards MCS. A 16-item questionnaire related to consciousness, pain and end-of-life issues in chronic (i.e., >1 year) VS and MCS and locked-in syndrome was distributed among attendants of medical and scientific conferences around Europe (n = 59). During a lecture, the items were explained orally to the attendants who needed to provide written yes/no responses. Chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses identified differences and associations for age, European region, religiosity, profession, and gender. We here report data on items concerning end-of-life issues on chronic VS and MCS. Responses were collected from 2,475 participants. For chronic VS (>1 year), 66% of healthcare professionals agreed to withdraw treatment and 82% wished not to be kept alive (P < 0.001). For chronic MCS (>1 year), less attendants agreed to withdraw treatment (28%, P < 0.001) and wished not to be kept alive (67%, P < 0.001). MCS was considered worse than VS for the patients in 54% and for their families in 42% of the sample. Respondents’ opinions were associated with geographic region and religiosity. Our data show that end-of-life opinions differ for VS as compared to MCS. The introduction of the diagnostic criteria for MCS has not substantially changed the opinions on end-of-life issues on permanent VS. Additionally, the existing legal ambiguity around MCS may have influenced the audience to draw a line between expressing preferences for self versus others, by implicitly recognizing that the latter could be a step on the slippery slope to legalize euthanasia. Given the observed individual variability, we stress the importance of advance directives and identification of proxies when discussing end-of-life issues in patients with disorders of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailComparison of the Full Outline of UnResponsiveness and Glasgow Liege Scale/Glasgow Coma Scale in an Intensive Care Unit Population.
Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; LEDOUX, Didier ULg; LAMBERMONT, Bernard ULg et al

in Neurocritical Care (2011), 15(3), 447-53

BACKGROUND: The Full Outline of UnResponsiveness (FOUR) has been proposed as an alternative for the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)/Glasgow Liege Scale (GLS) in the evaluation of consciousness in severely brain ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: The Full Outline of UnResponsiveness (FOUR) has been proposed as an alternative for the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)/Glasgow Liege Scale (GLS) in the evaluation of consciousness in severely brain-damaged patients. We compared the FOUR and GLS/GCS in intensive care unit patients who were admitted in a comatose state. METHODS: FOUR and GLS evaluations were performed in randomized order in 176 acutely (<1 month) brain-damaged patients. GLS scores were transformed in GCS scores by removing the GLS brainstem component. Inter-rater agreement was assessed in 20% of the studied population (N = 35). A logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, and etiology was performed to assess the link between the studied scores and the outcome 3 months after injury (N = 136). RESULTS: GLS/GCS verbal component was scored 1 in 146 patients, among these 131 were intubated. We found that the inter-rater reliability was good for the FOUR score, the GLS/GCS. FOUR, GLS/GCS total scores predicted functional outcome with and without adjustment for age and etiology. 71 patients were considered as being in a vegetative/unresponsive state based on the GLS/GCS. The FOUR score identified 8 of these 71 patients as being minimally conscious given that these patients showed visual pursuit. CONCLUSIONS: The FOUR score is a valid tool with good inter-rater reliability that is comparable to the GLS/GCS in predicting outcome. It offers the advantage to be performable in intubated patients and to identify non-verbal signs of consciousness by assessing visual pursuit, and hence minimal signs of consciousness (11% in this study), not assessed by GLS/GCS scales. [less ▲]

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See detailElectrophysiological correlates of behavioural changes in vigilance in vegetative state and minimally conscious state.
Landsness, Eric; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Noirhomme, Quentin ULg et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2011), 134(Pt 8), 2222-32

The existence of normal sleep in patients in a vegetative state is still a matter of debate. Previous electrophysiological sleep studies in patients with disorders of consciousness did not differentiate ... [more ▼]

The existence of normal sleep in patients in a vegetative state is still a matter of debate. Previous electrophysiological sleep studies in patients with disorders of consciousness did not differentiate patients in a vegetative state from patients in a minimally conscious state. Using high-density electroencephalographic sleep recordings, 11 patients with disorders of consciousness (six in a minimally conscious state, five in a vegetative state) were studied to correlate the electrophysiological changes associated with sleep to behavioural changes in vigilance (sustained eye closure and muscle inactivity). All minimally conscious patients showed clear electroencephalographic changes associated with decreases in behavioural vigilance. In the five minimally conscious patients showing sustained behavioural sleep periods, we identified several electrophysiological characteristics typical of normal sleep. In particular, all minimally conscious patients showed an alternating non-rapid eye movement/rapid eye movement sleep pattern and a homoeostatic decline of electroencephalographic slow wave activity through the night. In contrast, for most patients in a vegetative state, while preserved behavioural sleep was observed, the electroencephalographic patterns remained virtually unchanged during periods with the eyes closed compared to periods of behavioural wakefulness (eyes open and muscle activity). No slow wave sleep or rapid eye movement sleep stages could be identified and no homoeostatic regulation of sleep-related slow wave activity was observed over the night-time period. In conclusion, we observed behavioural, but no electrophysiological, sleep wake patterns in patients in a vegetative state, while there were near-to-normal patterns of sleep in patients in a minimally conscious state. These results shed light on the relationship between sleep electrophysiology and the level of consciousness in severely brain-damaged patients. We suggest that the study of sleep and homoeostatic regulation of slow wave activity may provide a complementary tool for the assessment of brain function in minimally conscious state and vegetative state patients. [less ▲]

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See detailPreserved feedforward but impaired top-down processes in the vegetative state.
Boly, Mélanie ULg; Garrido, Marta Isabel; Gosseries, Olivia ULg et al

in Science (2011), 332(6031), 858-62

Frontoparietal cortex is involved in the explicit processing (awareness) of stimuli. Frontoparietal activation has also been found in studies of subliminal stimulus processing. We hypothesized that an ... [more ▼]

Frontoparietal cortex is involved in the explicit processing (awareness) of stimuli. Frontoparietal activation has also been found in studies of subliminal stimulus processing. We hypothesized that an impairment of top-down processes, involved in recurrent neuronal message-passing and the generation of long-latency electrophysiological responses, might provide a more reliable correlate of consciousness in severely brain-damaged patients, than frontoparietal responses. We measured effective connectivity during a mismatch negativity paradigm and found that the only significant difference between patients in a vegetative state and controls was an impairment of backward connectivity from frontal to temporal cortices. This result emphasizes the importance of top-down projections in recurrent processing that involve high-order associative cortices for conscious perception. [less ▲]

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See detailResponse to comment on "preserved feedforward but impaired top-down processes in the vegetative state".
Boly, Mélanie ULg; Garrido, Marta Isabel; Gosseries, Olivia ULg et al

in Science (2011), 334(6060), 1203

King et al. raise some technical issues about our recent study showing impaired top-down processes in the vegetative state. We welcome the opportunity to provide more details about our methods and results ... [more ▼]

King et al. raise some technical issues about our recent study showing impaired top-down processes in the vegetative state. We welcome the opportunity to provide more details about our methods and results and to resolve their concerns. We substantiate our interpretation of the results and provide a point-by-point response to the issues raised. [less ▲]

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See detailMultimodal neuroimaging in patients with disorders of consciousness showing "functional hemispherectomy".
Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Fernandez-Espejo, D.; Lehembre, Remy ULg et al

in Progress in Brain Research (2011), 193

Beside behavioral assessment of patients with disorders of consciousness, neuroimaging modalities may offer objective paraclinical markers important for diagnosis and prognosis. They provide information ... [more ▼]

Beside behavioral assessment of patients with disorders of consciousness, neuroimaging modalities may offer objective paraclinical markers important for diagnosis and prognosis. They provide information on the structural location and extent of brain lesions (e.g., morphometric MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI-MRI) assessing structural connectivity) but also their functional impact (e.g., metabolic FDG-PET, hemodynamic fMRI, and EEG measurements obtained in "resting state" conditions). We here illustrate the role of multimodal imaging in severe brain injury, presenting a patient in unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS; i.e., vegetative state, VS) and in a "fluctuating" minimally conscious state (MCS). In both cases, resting state FDG-PET, fMRI, and EEG showed a functionally preserved right hemisphere, while DTI showed underlying differences in structural connectivity highlighting the complementarities of these neuroimaging methods in the study of disorders of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailTranscranial magnetic stimulation-evoked EEG/cortical potentials in physiological and pathological aging.
Casarotto, Silvia; Maatta, Sara; Herukka, Sanna-Kaisa et al

in Neuroreport (2011), 22(12), 592-7

The frontal cortex undergoes macrostructural and microstructural changes across the lifespan. These changes can be entirely physiological, such as the ones occurring in elderly individuals who are ... [more ▼]

The frontal cortex undergoes macrostructural and microstructural changes across the lifespan. These changes can be entirely physiological, such as the ones occurring in elderly individuals who are cognitively intact, or pathological, such as the ones occurring in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Here, we use simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study how the excitability of the frontal cortex changes during healthy and pathological aging. Hence, we compared the TMS-evoked EEG potentials collected in healthy elderly individuals with the ones collected in healthy young individuals, and in patients with Alzheimer's disease. We have shown that the EEG response to TMS of the left superior frontal cortex is not affected by physiological aging but is markedly altered by cognitive impairment. [less ▲]

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See detailDisorders of consciousness: coma, vegetative and minimally conscious states
Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Vanhaudenhuyse, Audrey ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg et al

in D. Cvetkovic & I. Cosic (Ed.) States of Consciousness: Experimental Insights into Meditation, Waking, Sleep and Dreams (2011)

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See detailComment évaluer la conscience chez des patients sévèrement cérébro-lésés ?
Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Laureys, Steven ULg; Vanhaudenhuyse, Audrey ULg

in Lutte, Isabelle (Ed.) L’évaluation du traumatisme crânien (2011)

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See detailLes traitements pharmacologiques chez les patients récupérant du coma
Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Thonnard, Marie ULg; Laureys, Steven ULg

in C Schnakers & S Laureys (Ed.) Comas et états de conscience altérée (2011)

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See detailFrom armchair to wheelchair: How patients with a locked-in syndrome integrate bodily changes in experienced identity.
Nizzi, M. C.; Demertzi, Athina ULg; Gosseries, Olivia ULg et al

in Consciousness & Cognition (2011)

Different sort of people are interested in personal identity. Philosophers frequently ask what it takes to remain oneself. Caregivers imagine their patients' experience. But both philosophers and ... [more ▼]

Different sort of people are interested in personal identity. Philosophers frequently ask what it takes to remain oneself. Caregivers imagine their patients' experience. But both philosophers and caregivers think from the armchair: they can only make assumptions about what it would be like to wake up with massive bodily changes. Patients with a locked-in syndrome (LIS) suffer a full body paralysis without cognitive impairment. They can tell us what it is like. Forty-four chronic LIS patients and 20 age-matched healthy medical professionals answered a 15-items questionnaire targeting: (A) global evaluation of identity, (B) body representation and (C) experienced meaning in life. In patients, self-reported identity was correlated with B and C. Patients differed with controls in C. These results suggest that the paralyzed body remains a strong component of patients' experienced identity, that patients can adjust to objectives changes perceived as meaningful and that caregivers fail in predicting patients' experience. [less ▲]

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See detailFaisabilité d’une alimentation orale chez les patients avec troubles de la conscience
Maudoux, Audrey ULg; BREUSKIN, Ingrid ULg; Gosseries, Olivia ULg et al

in Schnakers, Caroline (Ed.) Coma et états de conscience altérée (2011)

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See detailDisorders of consciousness: What's in a name?
Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Chatelle, Camille ULg et al

in NeuroRehabilitation (2011), 28

Following a coma, some patients may “awaken” without voluntary interaction or communication with the environment. More than 40 years ago this condition was coined coma vigil or apallic syndrome and later ... [more ▼]

Following a coma, some patients may “awaken” without voluntary interaction or communication with the environment. More than 40 years ago this condition was coined coma vigil or apallic syndrome and later became worldwide known as “persistent vegetative state”. About 10 years ago it became clear that some of these patients who failed to recover verbal or nonverbal communication did show some degree of consciousness – a condition called “minimally conscious state”. Some authors questioned the usefulness of differentiating unresponsive “vegetative” from minimally conscious patients but subsequent functional neuroimaging studies have since objectively demonstrated differences in residual cerebral processing and hence, we think, conscious awareness. These neuroimaging studies have also demonstrated that a small subset of unresponsive “vegetative” patients may show unambiguous signs of consciousness and command following inaccessible to bedside clinical examination. These findings, together with negative associations intrinsic to the term “vegetative state” as well as the diagnostic errors and their potential effect on the treatment and care for these patients gave rise to the recent proposal for an alternative neutral and more descriptive name: unresponsive wakefulness syndrome. We here give an overview of PET and (functional) MRI studies performed in these challenging patients and stress the need for a separate ICD9CM diagnosis code and MEDLINEMeSH entry for “minimally conscious state” as the lack of clear distinction between vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome and minimally conscious state may encumber scientific studies in the field of disorders of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessment of consciousness with electrophysiological and neurological imaging techniques.
Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Ledoux, Didier ULg et al

in Current Opinion in Critical Care (2011)

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Brain MRI (diffusion tensor imaging and spectroscopy) and functional neuroimaging (PET, functional MRI, EEG and evoked potential studies) are changing our understanding of patients with ... [more ▼]

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Brain MRI (diffusion tensor imaging and spectroscopy) and functional neuroimaging (PET, functional MRI, EEG and evoked potential studies) are changing our understanding of patients with disorders of consciousness encountered after coma such as the 'vegetative' or minimally conscious states. RECENT FINDINGS: Increasing evidence from functional neuroimaging and electrophysiology demonstrates some residual cognitive processing in a subgroup of patients who clinically fail to show any response to commands, leading to the recent proposal of 'unresponsive wakefulness syndrome' as an alternative name for patients previously coined 'vegetative' or 'apallic'. SUMMARY: Consciousness can be viewed as the emergent property of the collective behavior of widespread thalamocortical frontoparietal network connectivity. Data from physiological, pharmacological and pathological alterations of consciousness provide evidence in favor of this hypothesis. Increasing our understanding of the neural correlates of consciousness is helping clinicians to do a better job in terms of diagnosis, prognosis and finally treatment and drug development for these severely brain-damaged patients. The current challenge remains to continue translating this research from the bench to the bedside. Only well controlled large multicentric neuroimaging and electrophysiology studies will enable to identify which paraclinical diagnostic or prognostic test is necessary for our routine evidence-based assessment of individuals with disorders of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailNear-Death Experiences : Real or imagined memories?
Thonnard, Marie ULg; Laureys, Steven ULg; Brédart, Serge ULg et al

Poster (2010, September)

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See detailBrain-computer interface in disorders of consciousness: answering simple questions with a P3 speller
Noirhomme, Quentin ULg; Chatelle, Camille ULg; Kleih, Sonja et al

Poster (2010, June)

Objective: In the recovery from coma, the acquisition of command following represents an important milestone, indicating emergence from the vegetative state (Schnakers et al., 2009). In some patients ... [more ▼]

Objective: In the recovery from coma, the acquisition of command following represents an important milestone, indicating emergence from the vegetative state (Schnakers et al., 2009). In some patients, recovery of consciousness may precede motor recovery. Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) might permit these patients to show non-motor dependent signs of awareness and in a next step might enable communication. This study aimed at testing to what extent an EEG-based BCI could help detecting signs of awareness and communication in disorders of consciousness. We employed a P300 based BCI where healthy volunteers and patients with locked-in syndrome and in a minimally conscious state were asked to answer yes or no to simple questions by paying attention to one out of four auditorily presented stimuli (‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘stop’, ‘go’). Methods: We studied 13 patients with a minimally conscious state (MCS, 5 TBI – 8 anoxic, mean time post injury 70±109 months; mean age 42 ± 21) and 2 in pseudo-coma or locked in syndrome (LIS; brainstem stroke, time post injury 26 and 46 months; aged 63 and 29)) and 16 healthy controls (aged 45±19). Patients were evaluated using the Coma Recovery Scale Revised (CRS-R). An auditory P300 four choice speller paradigm (Furdea et al., 2009) based on the BCI2000 system (Schalk et al., 2004) was used. 16-Channel EEG was recorded using a g.tec USBAmp amplifier. A trial constituted of 15 presentation of four sounds the order of presentation being pseudo-randomized (sound duration: ~400ms; inter-stimulus interval: ~600ms). After a training session of 4 trials, patients and healthy subjects were required to answer 10 or 12 questions, respectively. Questions were of the following kind: “Is your name Quentin?”, “Is your mother’s name Dorothée?”. A stepwise linear discriminant analysis based on the training session was used to classify the data and to provide online feedback. Offline, all training and testing sequences were pooled. Sequences with artifacts were discarded and a leave-one-out approach was used to classify the data. Results: Healthy subjects presented a mean correct response rate of 73% online and 93% offline. Note that online classification failed for one control subject due to a presumed change in cognitive strategy between training and testing sessions. LIS patients showed a correct response rate of 30 and 60% (online) and 36 and 79% (offline). Three MCS patients had a correct response rate of ≥50% offline (10, 18, 0% online and 50, 53, 57% offline). Two of these three patients did not show any command following at the bedside. The 10 remaining MCS cases showed online and offline correct answers <50% (mean 33±9% online and 25±13% offline). Conclusion: Our auditory P300-based BCI permitted functional interactive communication in 15/16 controls (online) and in all offline. Our data obtained in patients with locked-in syndrome and disorders of consciousness demonstrate the potential clinical usefulness of the technique following coma but also show lower accuracy in patients as compared to healthy volunteers. This might be due to fluctuating attentional levels and exhaustibility in the MCS and to the suboptimal EEG recording quality due to movement, ocular and respiration artifacts in these challenging patients. Further algorithmic developments should include automatic artifact detection and single trial classification. Despite the need for further improvement in BCI devices adapted to post-coma patients, our results already indicate that MCS patients without any clinical sign of command-following can employ a yes-no speller offering the hope of functional interactive communication and a possibility for decision making and autonomy. Bibliography Furdea A, Halder S, Krusienski DJ, Bross D, Nijboer F, Birbaumer N, Kübler A, 2009, An auditory oddball (P300) spelling system for brain-computer interfaces, Psychophysiology. May; 46(3):617-25. Schalk G., McFarland D.J., Hinterberger T., Birbaumer N., and Wolpaw J.R. 2004, BCI2000: A General-Purpose Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) System, IEEE Trans Biomed Eng, 51(6). Schnakers C, Vanhaudenhuyse A, Giacino J, Ventura; Boly M, Majerus S, Moonen G, Laureys S, 2009, Diagnostic accuracy of the vegetative and minimally conscious state: Clinical consensus versus standardized neurobehavioral assessment, BMC Neurology, 9 (35). [less ▲]

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See detailProbing command following in patients with disorders of consciousness using a brain-computer interface
Noirhomme, Quentin ULg; Chatelle, Camille ULg; Kleih, Sonja et al

Conference (2010, June)

Objective: In the recovery from coma, the acquisition of command following represents an important milestone, indicating emergence from the vegetative state. In some patients, recovery of consciousness ... [more ▼]

Objective: In the recovery from coma, the acquisition of command following represents an important milestone, indicating emergence from the vegetative state. In some patients, recovery of consciousness may precede motor recovery. Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) might permit these patients to show non-motor dependent signs of awareness and in a next step might enable communication. This study aimed at testing to what extent an EEG-based BCI could help detecting signs of awareness and communication in disorders of consciousness. Methods: We studied 13 patients with a minimally conscious state (MCS, 5 TBI – 8 anoxic, mean time post injury 70±109 months; mean age 42 ± 21) and 16 healthy controls (aged 45±19). Patients were evaluated using the Coma Recovery Scale Revised. 16-Channel EEG was recorded using a g.tec USBAmp amplifier. An auditory P300 four choice speller paradigm based on the BCI2000 system was used. Subjects were asked to answer yes or no to simple questions by paying attention to one out of four auditorily presented stimuli (‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘stop’, ‘go’). A trial constituted of 15 presentations of each sound the order of presentation being randomized. After a training session, patients and healthy subjects were required to answer 10 to 12 questions. A stepwise linear discriminant analysis based on the training session was used to classify the data. Offline, all training and testing trials were pooled and a leave-one-out approach was used to classify the data. Results: Healthy subjects presented a mean correct response rate of 73% online and 93% offline. Three MCS patients had a correct response rate of ≥50% offline (10, 18, 0% online and 50, 53, 57% offline). Two of these three patients did not show any command following at the bedside. The 10 remaining MCS cases showed online and offline correct answers <50% (mean 33±9% online and 25±13% offline). Conclusion: Our auditory P300-based BCI permitted functional interactive communication in 15/16 controls (online) and in all offline. Our data obtained in patients with disorders of consciousness demonstrate the potential clinical usefulness of the technique following coma but also show lower accuracy in patients as compared to healthy volunteers. This might be due to fluctuating attentional levels and exhaustibility in the MCS and to the suboptimal EEG recording quality due to movement, ocular and respiration artifacts in these challenging patients. [less ▲]

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See detailNear-death experiences: real or imagined?
Thonnard, Marie ULg; Laureys, Steven ULg; Brédart, Serge ULg et al

Conference (2010, June)

Detailed reference viewed: 42 (4 ULg)