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See detailMultifaceted Brain Networks Reconfiguration in Disorders of Consciousness Uncovered by Co-Activation Patterns
Di Perri, Carol ULiege; Amico, Enrico; Heine, Lizette ULiege et al

in Human Brain Mapping (in press)

Introduction: Given that recent research has shown that functional connectivity is not a static phenomenon, we aim to investigate the dynamic properties of the default mode network’s (DMN) connectivity in ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Given that recent research has shown that functional connectivity is not a static phenomenon, we aim to investigate the dynamic properties of the default mode network’s (DMN) connectivity in patients with disorders of consciousness. Methods: Resting-state fMRI volumes of a convenience sample of 17 patients in unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) and controls were reduced to a spatiotemporal point process by selecting critical time points in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Spatial clustering was performed on the extracted PCC time frames to obtain 8 different co-activation patterns (CAPs). We investigated spatial connectivity patterns positively and negatively correlated with PCC using both CAPs and standard stationary method. We calculated CAPs occurrences and the total number of frames. Results: Compared to controls, patients showed (i) decreased within-network positive correlations and between-network negative correlations, (ii) emergence of “pathological” within-network negative correlations and between-network positive correlations (better defined with CAPs), and (iii) “pathological” increases in within-network positive correlations and between-network negative correlations (only detectable using CAPs). Patients showed decreased occurrence of DMN-like CAPs (1–2) compared to controls. No between-group differences were observed in the total number of frames Conclusion: CAPs reveal at a more fine-grained level the multifaceted spatial connectivity reconfiguration following the DMN disruption in UWS patients, which is more complex than previously thought and suggests alternative anatomical substrates for consciousness. BOLD fluctuations do not seem to differ between patients and controls, suggesting that BOLD response represents an intrinsic feature of the signal, and therefore that spatial configuration is more important for consciousness than BOLD activation itself. [less ▲]

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See detailIntensity and memory characteristics of near-death experiences
Martial, Charlotte ULiege; Charland-Verville, Vanessa ULiege; Cassol, Helena ULiege et al

in Consciousness & Cognition (in press)

Memories of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) seem to be very detailed and stable over time. At present, there is still no satisfactory explanation for the NDEs’ rich phenomenology. Here we compared ... [more ▼]

Memories of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) seem to be very detailed and stable over time. At present, there is still no satisfactory explanation for the NDEs’ rich phenomenology. Here we compared phenomenological characteristics of NDE memories with the reported experience’s intensity. We included 152 individuals with a self-reported “classical” NDE (i.e. occurring in life-threatening conditions). All participants completed a mailed questionnaire that included a measure of phenomenological characteristics of memories (the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire; MCQ) and a measure of NDE’s intensity (the Greyson NDE scale). Greyson NDE scale total score was positively correlated with MCQ total score, suggesting that participants who described more intense NDEs also reported more phenomenological memory characteristics of NDE. Using MCQ items, our study also showed that NDE’s intensity is associated in particular with sensory details, personal importance and reactivation frequency variables. [less ▲]

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See detailGlobal structural integrity and effective connectivity in patients with disorders of consciousness
BODART, Olivier ULiege; Amico, Enrico; Gomez, Francisco et al

in Brain Stimulation (in press)

Background Previous studies have separately reported impaired functional, structural, and effective connectivity in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). The perturbational complexity index (PCI ... [more ▼]

Background Previous studies have separately reported impaired functional, structural, and effective connectivity in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). The perturbational complexity index (PCI) is a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) derived marker of effective connectivity. The global fractional anisotropy (FA) is a marker of structural integrity. Little is known about how these parameters are related to each other. Objective We aimed at testing the relationship between structural integrity and effective connectivity. Methods We assessed 23 patients with severe brain injury more than 4 weeks post-onset, leading to DOC or locked-in syndrome, and 14 healthy subjects. We calculated PCI using repeated single pulse TMS coupled with high-density electroencephalography, and used it as a surrogate of effective connectivity. Structural integrity was measured using the global FA, derived from diffusion weighted imaging. We used linear regression modelling to test our hypothesis, and computed the correlation between PCI and FA in different groups. Results Global FA could predict 74% of PCI variance in the whole sample and 56% in the patients' group. No other predictors (age, gender, time since onset, behavioural score) improved the models. FA and PCI were correlated in the whole population (r = 0.86, p < 0.0001), the patients, and the healthy subjects subgroups. Conclusion We here demonstrated that effective connectivity correlates with structural integrity in brain-injured patients. Increased structural damage level decreases effective connectivity, which could prevent the emergence of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailThe effect of spaceflight and microgravity on the human brain
Van Ombergen, Angelique; Demertzi, Athina ULiege; Tomilovskaya et al

in Journal of Neurology (in press)

Microgravity, confinement, isolation, and immobilization are just some of the features astronauts have to cope with during space missions. Consequently, long-duration space travel can have detrimental ... [more ▼]

Microgravity, confinement, isolation, and immobilization are just some of the features astronauts have to cope with during space missions. Consequently, long-duration space travel can have detrimental effects on human physiology. Although research has focused on the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system in particular, the exact impact of spaceflight on the human central nervous system remains to be determined. Previous studies have reported psychological problems, cephalic fluid shifts, neurovestibular problems, and cognitive alterations, but there is paucity in the knowledge of the underlying neural substrates. Previous space analogue studies and preliminary spaceflight studies have shown an involvement of the cerebellum, cortical sensorimotor, and somatosensory areas and the vestibular pathways. Extending this knowledge is crucial, especially in view of long-duration interplanetary missions (e.g., Mars missions) and space tourism. In addition, the acquired insight could be relevant for vestibular patients, patients with neurodegenerative disorders, as well as the elderly population, coping with multisensory deficit syndromes, immobilization, and inactivity. [less ▲]

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See detailA method for independent component graph analysis of resting-state fMRI. Brain and Behavior 2017, in press
Ribeiro de Paula, Demetrius; Ziegler, Erik; Abeyasinghe, P et al

in Brain and Behavior (in press)

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See detailSelf in Dementia
Antoine, Nicolas ULiege; Genon, Sarah ULiege; Bastin, Christine ULiege et al

in Mishara; Corlett, P.; Fletcher, P. (Eds.) et al Phenomenological Neuropsychiatry, How Patient Experience Bridges Clinic with Clinical Neuroscience (in press)

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See detailCorrigendum: Temporality of Features in Near-Death Experience Narratives
Martial, Charlotte ULiege; Cassol, Helena ULiege; Antonopoulos, Georgios ULiege et al

in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2017)

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See detailMultimodal imaging analysis in Charles Bonnet Syndrome: a case report
Martial, Charlotte ULiege; Di Perri, Carol ULiege; Larroque, Stephen Karl ULiege et al

Poster (2017, June)

Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) is a rare condition characterized by visual impairment associated with complex visual hallucinations in psychologically normal elderly people. Previous studies have suggested ... [more ▼]

Charles Bonnet syndrome (CBS) is a rare condition characterized by visual impairment associated with complex visual hallucinations in psychologically normal elderly people. Previous studies have suggested that visual hallucinations may be caused by brain damage in the visual system. However, in the case of CBS, specific brain regions in the occipital cortex have not been clearly determined and functional neuroimaging remains relatively unexplored. To our knowledge, functional connectivity by means of resting-state magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has never been investigated in patients with CBS. We here aimed to investigate structural imaging, brain metabolism and functional connectivity in a patient with CBS. Resting-state functional and structural MRI were acquired in an 85-year-old patient with CBS and 12 age- and gender-matched normally sighted controls. Cognitive functioning was measured by behavioral assessment. A seed-based resting state fMRI was performed to investigate the default mode network (DMN), the executive control network and the visual networks connectivity. A voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis was employed to investigate the grey matter volume. Cortical and subcortical grey matter thickness were further investigated. Finally, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) was also acquired to observe regional glucose uptake by comparing standard uptake values (SUVs). Increased functional connectivity was found between the DMN and the temporo-occipital fusiform cortex, as well as between the secondary visual cortex and the left frontal cortex, in the CBS patient compared to controls. The patient also demonstrated increased functional connectivity between the primary visual cortex and the left supramarginal gyrus and between the associative visual cortex and the superior temporal gyrus/angular gyrus, as compared to controls. Decreased grey matter volume was observed in the lateral occipital cortex/angular gyrus in our patient as compared to controls. Diminished grey matter thickness values were observed in the lateral geniculate nucleus compared to healthy controls. FDG-PET results confirmed previous work and showed bilateral hypometabolism in the occipital cortex (mean SUV reduction of 5.36%, p<0.001). Our results suggest that structural alterations in visual system in CBS are associated with compensatory/adaptive changes in functional connectivity that involve regions known to support hallucinations of faces in CBS patients. We suggest that this functional connectivity reorganization following visual structural damage may contribute to visual hallucinations. These findings might shed light on the pathophysiology underlining this rare condition. [less ▲]

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See detailTemporality of Features in Near-Death Experience Narratives
Martial, Charlotte ULiege; Cassol, Helena ULiege; Antonopoulos, Georgios ULiege et al

in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2017)

Background: After an occurrence of a Near-Death Experience (NDE), Near- Death Experiencers (NDErs) usually report extremely rich and detailed narratives. Phenomenologically, a NDE can be described as a ... [more ▼]

Background: After an occurrence of a Near-Death Experience (NDE), Near- Death Experiencers (NDErs) usually report extremely rich and detailed narratives. Phenomenologically, a NDE can be described as a set of distinguishable features. Some authors have proposed regular patterns of NDEs, however, the actual temporality sequence of NDE core features remains a little explored area. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency distribution of these features (globally and according to the position of features in narratives) as well as the most frequently reported temporality sequences of features. Methods: We collected 154 French freely expressed written NDE narratives (i.e., Greyson NDE scale total score 7/32). A text analysis was conducted on all narratives in order to infer temporal ordering and frequency distribution of NDE features. Results: Our analyses highlighted the following most frequently reported sequence of consecutive NDE features: Out-of-Body Experience, Experiencing a tunnel, Seeing a bright light, Feeling of peace. Yet, this sequence was encountered in a very limited number of NDErs. Conclusion: These findings may suggest that NDEs temporality sequences can vary across NDErs. Exploring associations and relationships among features encountered during NDEs may complete the rigorous definition and scientific comprehension of the phenomenon. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of preference and sensory modality on behavioral reaction in patients with disorders of consciousness
Heine, Lizette ULiege; Tillmann, Barbara; Hauet, Marjolaine et al

in Brain Injury (2017)

Background: Reliable evaluation of patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) or in a minimally conscious state (MCS) remains a major challenge. It has been suggested that the expression of ... [more ▼]

Background: Reliable evaluation of patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) or in a minimally conscious state (MCS) remains a major challenge. It has been suggested that the expression of residual cerebral function could be improved by allowing patients to listen to their favourite music. However, the potential effect of music on behavioural responsiveness, as well as the effect of preferred stimuli in other sensory modalities (e.g. olfaction), remain poorly understood. Objective: The aim of our study was to investigate the effect of sensory modality (auditory versus olfactory) and preference (preferred versus neutral) of the test stimuli on patients’ subsequent performance on the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R). Research design: Within-subject design because of inter-individual differences between patients. Methods and procedures: We studied four items from the CRS-R (visual pursuit using a mirror, auditory localization of the own name and two movements to command) in 13 patients (7 MCS; 6 UWS). Main outcomes and results: Auditory stimuli triggered higher responsiveness compared to olfactory stimuli, and preferred stimuli were followed by higher scores than did neutral stimuli. Conclusions: Findings suggest that preferred auditory stimuli at the bedside contribute to the expression of residual function and could improve the diagnostic assessment. [less ▲]

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See detailIs oral feeding compatible with an unresponsive wakefulness syndrome?
MELOTTE, Evelyne ULiege; MAUDOUX, Audrey ULiege; DELHALLE, Sabrina ULiege et al

Conference (2017, May)

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS Vegetative state/Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) is defined by the presence of eye-opening and the absence of awareness and voluntary movement (Laureys et al., 2010). VS ... [more ▼]

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS Vegetative state/Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) is defined by the presence of eye-opening and the absence of awareness and voluntary movement (Laureys et al., 2010). VS/UWS patients classically receive hydration and nutrition through an enteral feeding tube. We present the cases of two patients that were diagnosed as VS/UWS but were able to resume oral feeding. It is however unclear if the presence of oral feeding is compatible with the diagnosis of VS/UWS or if this observation should lead to a modification of the diagnosis. METHODS AND RESULTS We retrospectively reviewed the clinical information of 65 VS/UWS patients (aged 45±12; range 16-85 years) evaluated at the CHU hospital of Liege searching for mention of oral feeding. VS/UWS diagnosis was made after repeated behavioral assessments using the standardized Coma Recovery Scale–Revised (CRS-R, (Teasdale & Jennet, 1974)) in association with complementary evaluations using neuroimaging techniques. Of the 65 VS/UWS patients, two could resume oral feeding (3%). One could achieve full oral feeding (mixed texture and liquid) and the other had oral feeding (liquid and semi-liquid) in addition to gastrostomy feeding. Neuroimaging evaluations showed in both patients a massive decrease in the spontaneous brain activity and its functional connectivity (using functional magnetic resonance imaging), bilateral cerebral cortex hypometabolism (fronto- parietal associative areas, posterior parietal areas, cingulate cortices, precuneus) and preserved metabolism in the brainstem and cerebellum (using positron emission tomography). CONCLUSIONS Oral feeding is rare in VS/UWS patients (3% in our cohort). Based on neuroimaging results, this behaviour does not seem to be incompatible with the diagnosis of VS/UWS but the neuromecanistic root, which allows this behavior, still needs to be elucidate. This study also emphasizes the importance of systematic swallowing evaluation in patients with altered state of consciousness regardless of their level of consciousness. Moreover, tactile oro-facial stimulation, manual therapy, taste stimulation and therapeutic feeding can be another “gateway” to interact with these patients and improve their quality of life. [less ▲]

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See detailClinical sub-categorization of minimally conscious state according to resting functional connectivity
Aubinet, Charlène ULiege; Heine, Lizette ULiege; Martial, Charlotte ULiege et al

Conference (2017, March 31)

Introduction: Patients in a minimally conscious state (MCS) have been subcategorized in MCS plus and MCS minus, respectively with and without command following capacity. Here we aim to characterize ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Patients in a minimally conscious state (MCS) have been subcategorized in MCS plus and MCS minus, respectively with and without command following capacity. Here we aim to characterize differences in MCS plus as compared to MCS minus by means of functional connectivity (FC). Method: Resting state functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) was acquired in 292 MCS patients and a seed-based analysis was conducted on a convenience sample of 19 MCS patients (10 MCS plus and 9 MCS minus) and 35 healthy controls. We investigated the left and right frontoparietal networks (FPN), the auditory network and the default mode network (DMN). We employed a ROI-to-ROI analysis to investigate the inter-hemispheric connectivity and we investigated inter-group differences in grey and white matter volume by means of voxel-based morphometry. Results: We found a higher FC in MCS plus as compared to MCS minus in the left FPN, specifically between the left dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex and the left temporo-occipital fusiform cortex (TOFC). The FC of auditory network, right FPN and DMN, inter-hemispheric connectivity and structure of grey and white matter did not show differences between patients groups. Discussion: Our results suggest that the clinical sub-categorization of MCS is sustained by FC differences in a language-related executive control network. MCS plus and MCS minus patients are not differentiated by networks involved in auditory processing, perception of surroundings and internal thoughts, nor by differences in inter-hemispheric connectivity and in morphology. [less ▲]

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See detail2 Years outcome of patients in unresponsive wakefulness syndrome/vegetative state and minimally conscious state
Cassol, Helena ULiege; LEDOUX, Didier ULiege; Thibaut, Aurore ULiege et al

Poster (2017, March)

INTRODUCTION: Following severe acute brain damage, patients typically evolve from coma to an unresponsive wakefulness syndrome/vegetative state (UWS/VS; wakefulness without awareness) and later to a ... [more ▼]

INTRODUCTION: Following severe acute brain damage, patients typically evolve from coma to an unresponsive wakefulness syndrome/vegetative state (UWS/VS; wakefulness without awareness) and later to a minimally conscious state (MCS; fluctuating but consistent nonreflex behaviors). MCS is subcategorized in MCS+ (i.e., command following) and MCS- (i.e., visual pursuit, localization of noxious stimulation or contingent behaviours). Reliable and consistent interactive communication and/or functional use of objects indicate the next boundary – emergence from MCS (EMCS). To date, there is still no reliable predictive model of recovery from the UWS/VS and the MCS. A better understanding of patients' outcome would help in decisions regarding patients’ care and rehabilitation, as well as end-of-life decisions. METHODS: We collected demographic information, acute care history and longitudinal follow-up of patients in UWS/VS and MCS admitted in 15 expert centers in Belgium (via the Belgian Federal Public Service Health). Patients were evaluated at 1, 3, 6, 12 and 24 months post injury with the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised and the diagnosis was based on internationally accepted criteria of UWS/VS, MCS or EMCS. Results were considered significant at p<0.001. RESULTS: 24 months follow-up was available for 476 patients including 261 diagnosed in UWS/VS (88 traumatic, 173 non-traumatic) and 215 diagnosed in MCS (80 traumatic, 135 non-traumatic) one month after the injury. Patients who were in MCS one month after the insult were more likely to recover functional communication or object use after 24 months than patients in UWS/VS. Moreover, functional recovery occurred more often in MCS+ (79%) as compared to MCS- (29%), and mortality rate was more important in MCS- patients (68%) as compared to MCS+ (21%). Comparisons within UWS/VS and MCS groups based on etiology showed that traumatic patients had a better outcome at 24 months than non-traumatic patients. Among non-traumatic patients, no difference was found between anoxic patients and patients with other etiologies regarding functional recovery. CONCLUSION: Our study highlights that the outcome is significantly better for patients who are in MCS one month post-injury as compared to patients who remain in UWS/VS at that time. Concerning MCS patients, the outcome is significantly better for patients who are MCS+ one month post-injury as compared to patients who are MCS- at that time. This study also confirms that patients with traumatic etiology have better prognosis than patients with non-traumatic causes. [less ▲]

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See detailApplication of Qualitative Thematic Analysis to Near-Death Experiences
Cassol, Helena ULiege; Pétré, Benoît ULiege; Degrange, Sophie ULiege et al

Poster (2017, February 01)

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See detailCharacterization of minimally conscious state minus and plus according to resting functional connectivity
Aubinet, Charlène ULiege; Heine, Lizette; Martial, Charlotte ULiege et al

Scientific conference (2017, February 01)

The minimally conscious state (MCS) has been sub-categorized in MCS plus and MCS minus, i.e. respectively with and without command following capacity. Here we aimed at characterizing differences in MCS ... [more ▼]

The minimally conscious state (MCS) has been sub-categorized in MCS plus and MCS minus, i.e. respectively with and without command following capacity. Here we aimed at characterizing differences in MCS plus as compared to MCS minus by means of functional connectivity (FC). Resting state functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) was acquired in 292 MCS patients and a seed-based analysis was conducted on a convenience sample of 19 MCS patients (10 MCS plus and 9 MCS minus) and 35 healthy controls. We investigated the left and right frontoparietal networks (FPN), the auditory network and the default mode network (DMN). We employed a ROI-to-ROI analysis and a voxel-based morphometry in order to investigate the inter-hemispheric connectivity and the grey and white matter volume, respectively. A significantly higher FC was found in MCS plus as compared to MCS minus in the left FPN, specifically between the left dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex and the left temporo-occipital fusiform cortex (TOFC). The FC of auditory network, right FPN and DMN, inter-hemispheric connectivity and structure of grey and white matter did not show differences between patients groups. The clinical sub-categorization of MCS is therefore sustained by FC differences in a language-related executive control network. These patient groups are not differentiated by networks involved in auditory processing, perception of surroundings and internal thoughts, nor by differences in inter-hemispheric connectivity and in morphology. [less ▲]

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See detailHow Does Spasticity Affect Patients with Disorders of Consciousness?
Martens, Géraldine ULiege; Foidart-Dessalle, Marguerite ULiege; Laureys, Steven ULiege et al

in Schnakers, Caroline; Laureys, Steven (Eds.) Coma and Disorders of Consciousness (2017)

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See detailNear-death experiences: actual considerations.
Charland-Verville, Vanessa ULiege; Martial, Charlotte ULiege; Cassol, Helena ULiege et al

in Schnakers, Caroline; Laureys, Steven (Eds.) Coma and Disorders of Consciousness, Second Edition (2017)

The notion that death represents a passing to an afterlife, where we are reunited with loved ones and live eternally in a utopian paradise, is common in the anecdotal reports of people who have ... [more ▼]

The notion that death represents a passing to an afterlife, where we are reunited with loved ones and live eternally in a utopian paradise, is common in the anecdotal reports of people who have encountered a “near-death experience” (NDE). These experiences are usually portrayed as being extremely pleasant including features such as a feeling of peacefulness, the vision of a dark tunnel leading to a brilliant light, the sensation of leaving the body, or the experience of a life review. NDEs are increasingly being reported as a clearly identifiable physiological and psychological reality of clinical and scientific significance. The definition and causes of the phenomenon as well as the identification of NDE experiencers are still matters of debate. The phenomenon has been thoroughly portrayed by the media, but the science of NDEs is rather recent and still lacking of rigorous experimental data and reproducible controlled experiments. It seems that the most appropriate theories to explain the phenomenon tend to integrate both psychological and neurobiological mechanisms. The paradoxical dissociation between the richness and intensity of the memory, probably occurring during a moment of brain dysfunction, offers a unique opportunity to better understand the neural correlates of consciousness. In this chapter, we will attempt to describe NDEs and the methods to identify them. We will also briefly discuss the NDE experiencers’ characteristics. We will then address the main current explicative models and the science of NDEs. [less ▲]

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See detailSleep, Coma, Vegetative and Minimally 4 Conscious States
Di Perri, Carol ULiege; Cavaliere, Carlo; Bodart, Olivier ULiege et al

in Sleep Disorders Medicine (2017)

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See detailFalse memory susceptibility in coma survivors with and without a near-death experience
Martial, Charlotte ULiege; Charland-Verville, Vanessa ULiege; Dehon, Hedwige ULiege et al

in Psychological Research (2017)

It has been postulated that memories of neardeath experiences (NDEs) could be (at least in part) reconstructions based on experiencers’ (NDErs) previous knowledge and could be built as a result of the ... [more ▼]

It has been postulated that memories of neardeath experiences (NDEs) could be (at least in part) reconstructions based on experiencers’ (NDErs) previous knowledge and could be built as a result of the individual’s attempt to interpret the confusing experience. From the point of view of the experiencer, NDE memories are perceived as being unrivalled memories due to its associated rich phenomenology. However, the scientific literature devoted to the cognitive functioning of NDErs in general, and their memory performance in particular, is rather limited. This study examined NDErs’ susceptibility to false memories using the Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm. We included 20 NDErs who reported having had their experience in the context of a life-threatening event (Greyson NDE scale total score ≥7/32) and 20 volunteers (matched for age, gender, education level, and time since brain insult) who reported a life-threatening event but without a NDE. Both groups were presented with DRM lists for a recall task during which they were asked to assign “Remember/Know/Guess” judgements to any recalled response. In addition, they were later asked to complete a post-recall test designed to obtain estimates of activation and monitoring of critical lures. Results demonstrated that NDErs and volunteers were equally likely to produce false memories, but that NDErs recalled them more frequently associated with compelling illusory recollection. Of particular interest, analyses of activation and monitoring estimates suggest that NDErs and volunteers groups were equally likely to think of critical lures, but source monitoring was less successful in NDErs compared to volunteers. [less ▲]

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