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See detailBiased binomial assessment of cross-validated estimation of classification accuracies illustrated in diagnosis predictions
Noirhomme, Quentin ULg; Lesenfants, Damien ULg; Gomez, Francisco et al

in NeuroImage: Clinical (2014), 4

Multivariate classification is used in neuroimaging studies to infer brain activation or in medical applications to infer diagnosis. Their results are often assessed through either a binomial or a ... [more ▼]

Multivariate classification is used in neuroimaging studies to infer brain activation or in medical applications to infer diagnosis. Their results are often assessed through either a binomial or a permutation test. Here, we simulated classification results of generated random data to assess the influence of the cross-validation scheme on the significance of results. Distributions built from classification of random data with crossvalidation did not follow the binomial distribution. The binomial test is therefore not adapted. On the contrary, the permutation test was unaffected by the cross-validation scheme. The influence of the crossvalidation was further illustrated on real-data from a brain–computer interface experiment in patients with disorders of consciousness and from an fMRI study on patients with Parkinson disease. Three out of 16 patients with disorders of consciousness had significant accuracy on binomial testing, but only one showed significant accuracy using permutation testing. In the fMRI experiment, the mental imagery of gait could discriminate significantly between idiopathic Parkinson’s disease patients and healthy subjects according to the permutation test but not according to the binomial test. Hence, binomial testing could lead to biased estimation of significance and false positive or negative results. In our view, permutation testing is thus recommended for clinical application of classification with cross-validation. [less ▲]

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See detailDiagnostic precision of PET imaging and functional MRI in disorders of consciousness: a clinical validation study
Stender, Johan; Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg et al

in Lancet Neurology (2014)

Background: Bedside clinical examinations can have high rates of misdiagnosis of unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (vegetative state) or minimally conscious state. The diagnostic and prognostic usefulness ... [more ▼]

Background: Bedside clinical examinations can have high rates of misdiagnosis of unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (vegetative state) or minimally conscious state. The diagnostic and prognostic usefulness of neuroimaging-based approaches has not been established in a clinical setting. We did a validation study of two neuroimaging-based diagnostic methods: PET imaging and functional MRI (fMRI). Methods: For this clinical validation study, we included patients referred to the University Hospital of Liège, Belgium, between January, 2008, and June, 2012, who were diagnosed by our unit with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, locked-in syndrome, or minimally conscious state with traumatic or non-traumatic causes. We did repeated standardised clinical assessments with the Coma Recovery Scale—Revised (CRS—R), cerebral 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET, and fMRI during mental activation tasks. We calculated the diagnostic accuracy of both imaging methods with CRS—R diagnosis as reference. We assessed outcome after 12 months with the Glasgow Outcome Scale—Extended. Findings: We included 41 patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, four with locked-in syndrome, and 81 in a minimally conscious state (48=traumatic, 78=non-traumatic; 110=chronic, 16=subacute). 18F-FDG PET had high sensitivity for identification of patients in a minimally conscious state (93%, 95% CI 85—98) and high congruence (85%, 77—90) with behavioural CRS—R scores. The active fMRI method was less sensitive at diagnosis of a minimally conscious state (45%, 30—61) and had lower overall congruence with behavioural scores (63%, 51—73) than PET imaging. 18F-FDG PET correctly predicted outcome in 75 of 102 patients (74%, 64—81), and fMRI in 36 of 65 patients (56%, 43—67). 13 of 42 (32%) of the behaviourally unresponsive patients (ie, diagnosed as unresponsive with CRS—R) showed brain activity compatible with (minimal) consciousness (ie, activity associated with consciousness, but diminished compared with fully conscious individuals) on at least one neuroimaging test; 69% of these (9 of 13) patients subsequently recovered consciousness. Interpretation: Cerebral 18F-FDG PET could be used to complement bedside examinations and predict long-term recovery of patients with unresponsive wakefulness syndrome. Active fMRI might also be useful for differential diagnosis, but seems to be less accurate. Funding: The Belgian National Funds for Scientific Research (FNRS), Fonds Léon Fredericq, the European Commission, the James McDonnell Foundation, the Mind Science Foundation, the French Speaking Community Concerted Research Action, the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Liège. [less ▲]

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See detailRegional cerebral metabolic patterns demonstrate the role of anterior forebrain mesocircuit dysfunction in the severely injured brain
Fridman, Esteban A; Beattie, Bradley J; Broft, Allegra et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2014)

Although disorders of consciousness (DOCs) demonstrate widely varying clinical presentations and patterns of structural injury, global down-regulation and bilateral reductions in metabolism of the ... [more ▼]

Although disorders of consciousness (DOCs) demonstrate widely varying clinical presentations and patterns of structural injury, global down-regulation and bilateral reductions in metabolism of the thalamus and frontoparietal network are consistent findings. We test the hypothesis that global reductions of background synaptic activity in DOCs will associate with changes in the pattern of metabolic activity in the central thalamus and globus pallidus. We compared 32 [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose PETs obtained from severely brain-injured patients (BIs) and 10 normal volunteers (NVs). We defined components of the anterior forebrain mesocircuit on high-resolution T1-MRI (ventral, associative, and sensorimotor striatum; globus pallidus; central thalamus and noncentral thalamus). Metabolic profiles for BI and NV demonstrated distinct changes in the pattern of uptake: ventral and association striatum (but not sensorimotor) were significantly reduced relative to global mean uptake after BI; a relative increase in globus pallidus metabolism was evident in BI subjects who also showed a relative reduction of metabolism in the central thalamus. The reversal of globus pallidus and central thalamus profiles across BIs and NVs supports the mesocircuit hypothesis that broad functional (or anatomic) deafferentation may combine to reduce central thalamus activity and release globus pallidus activity in DOCs. In addition, BI subjects showed broad frontoparietal metabolic down-regulation consistent with prior studies supporting the link between central thalamic/pallidal metabolism and down-regulation of the frontoparietal network. Recovery of left hemisphere frontoparietal metabolic activity was further associated with command following. [less ▲]

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See detailWhite Matter Changes in Comatose Survivors of Anoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy and Traumatic Brain Injury: Comparative Diffusion-Tensor Imaging Study
Van Der Eerden, Anke; Khalilzadeh, Omid; Perlbarg, Vincent et al

in Radiology (2014), 270

Purpose:To analyze white matter pathologic abnormalities by using diffusion-tensor (DT) imaging in a multicenter prospective cohort of comatose patients following cardiac arrest or traumatic brain injury ... [more ▼]

Purpose:To analyze white matter pathologic abnormalities by using diffusion-tensor (DT) imaging in a multicenter prospective cohort of comatose patients following cardiac arrest or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Materials and Methods: Institutional review board approval and informed consent from proxies and control subjects were obtained. DT imaging was performed 5–57 days after insult in 49 cardiac arrest and 40 TBI patients. To control for DT imaging–processing variability, patients’ values were normalized to those of 111 control subjects. Automated segmentation software calculated normalized axial diffusivity (λ1) and radial diffusivity (λ) in 19 predefined white matter regions of interest (ROIs). DT imaging variables were compared by using general linear modeling, and side-to-side Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated. P values were corrected for multiple testing (Bonferroni). Results:In central white matter, λ1 differed from that in control subjects in six of seven TBI ROIs and five of seven cardiac arrest ROIs (all P < .01). The λ differed from that in control subjects in all ROIs in both patient groups (P < .01). In hemispheres, λ1 was decreased compared with that in control subjects in three of 12 TBI ROIs (P < .05) and nine of 12 cardiac arrest ROIs (P < .01). The λ was increased in all TBI ROIs (P < .01) and in seven of 12 cardiac arrest ROIs (P < .05). Cerebral hemisphere λ1 was lower in cardiac arrest than in TBI in six of 12 ROIs (P < .01), while λ was higher in TBI than in cardiac arrest in eight of 12 ROIs (P < .01). Diffusivity values were symmetrically distributed in cardiac arrest (P < .001 for side-to-side correlation) but not in TBI patients. Conclusion:DT imaging findings are consistent with the known predominance of cerebral hemisphere axonal injury in cardiac arrest and chiefly central myelin injury in TBI. This consistency supports the validity of DT imaging for differentiating axon and myelin damage in vivo in humans. [less ▲]

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See detailEffect of zolpidem in chronic disorders of consciousness: a prospective open-label study.
Thonnard, Marie ULg; Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Demertzi, Athina ULg et al

in Functional Neurology (2014), 28(4), 259-64

Zolpidem has been reported as an "awakening drug" in some patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). We here present the results of a prospective openlabel study in chronic DOC patients. Sixty ... [more ▼]

Zolpidem has been reported as an "awakening drug" in some patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). We here present the results of a prospective openlabel study in chronic DOC patients. Sixty patients (35±15 years; 18 females; mean time since insult ± SD: 4±5.5 years; 31 with traumatic etiology) with a diagnosis of vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (n=28) or minimally conscious state (n=32) were behaviorally assessed using the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R) before and one hour after administration of 10 mg of zolpidem. At the group level, the diagnosis did not change after intake of zolpidem (p=0.10) and CRS-R total scores decreased (p=0.01). Twelve patients (20%) showed improved behaviors and/or CRS-R total scores after zolpidem administration but in only one patient was the diagnosis after zolpidem intake found to show a significant improvement (functional object use), which suggested a change of diagnosis. However, in this patient, a double-blind placebo-controlled trial was performed in order to better specify the effects of zolpidem, but the patient, on this trial, failed to show any clinical improvements. The present open-label study therefore failed to show any clinically significant improvement (i.e., change of Effect of zolpidem in chronic disorders of consciousness: a prospective open-label study diagnosis) in any of the 60 studied chronic DOC patients. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessing consciousness in coma and related states using transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with electroencephalography.
Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Thibaut, Aurore ULg; Boly, Mélanie ULg et al

in Annales Françaises d'Anesthésie et de Réanimation (2014)

Thanks to advances in medical care, an increased number of patients recover from coma. However, some remain in vegetative/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome or in a minimally conscious state. Detection of ... [more ▼]

Thanks to advances in medical care, an increased number of patients recover from coma. However, some remain in vegetative/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome or in a minimally conscious state. Detection of awareness in severely brain-injured patients is challenging because it relies on behavioral assessments, which can be affected by motor, sensory and cognitive impairments of the patients. Other means of evaluation are needed to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis in this challenging population. We will here review the different altered states of consciousness occurring after severe brain damage, and explain the difficulties associated with behavioral assessment of consciousness. We will then describe a non-invasive technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with high-density electroencephalography (TMS-EEG), which has allowed us to detect the presence or absence of consciousness in different physiological, pathological and pharmacological states. Some potential underlying mechanisms of the loss of consciousness will then be discussed. In conclusion, TMS-EEG is highly promising in identifying markers of consciousness at the individual level and might be of great value for clinicians in the assessment of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailQuantifying cortical EEG responses to TMS in (un)consciousness
Sarasso, S; Rosanova, M; Casali, A.G et al

in Clinical EEG and Neuroscience : Official Journal of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (ENCS) (2014)

We normally assess another individual's level of consciousness based on her or his ability to interact with the surrounding environment and communicate. Usually, if we observe purposeful behavior ... [more ▼]

We normally assess another individual's level of consciousness based on her or his ability to interact with the surrounding environment and communicate. Usually, if we observe purposeful behavior, appropriate responses to sensory inputs, and, above all, appropriate answers to questions, we can be reasonably sure that the person is conscious. However, we know that consciousness can be entirely within the brain, even in the absence of any interaction with the external world; this happens almost every night, while we dream. Yet, to this day, we lack an objective, dependable measure of the level of consciousness that is independent of processing sensory inputs and producing appropriate motor outputs. Theoretically, consciousness is thought to require the joint presence of functional integration and functional differentiation, otherwise defined as brain complexity. Here we review a series of recent studies in which Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation combined with electroencephalography (TMS/EEG) has been employed to quantify brain complexity in wakefulness and during physiological (sleep), pharmacological (anesthesia) and pathological (brain injury) loss of consciousness. These studies invariably show that the complexity of the cortical response to TMS collapses when consciousness is lost during deep sleep, anesthesia and vegetative state following severe brain injury, while it recovers when consciousness resurges in wakefulness, during dreaming, in the minimally conscious state or locked-in syndrome. The present paper will also focus on how this approach may contribute to unveiling the pathophysiology of disorders of consciousness affecting brain-injured patients. Finally, we will underline some crucial methodological aspects concerning TMS/EEG measurements of brain complexity. [less ▲]

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See detailConsciousness and Unconsciousness: An EEG Perspective
Noirhomme, Quentin ULg; Laureys, Steven ULg

in Clinical EEG and Neuroscience (2014), 45

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See detailDIRECTED INFORMATION TRANSFER IN SCALP ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPHIC RECORDINGS: INSIGHTS ON DISORDERS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Marinazzo, Daniele; Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Boly, Mélanie ULg et al

in Clinical EEG and Neuroscience : Official Journal of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (ENCS) (2014)

Introduction: The neural mechanisms underlying electrophysiological changes observed in patients with disorders of consciousness following a coma remain poorly understood. The aim of this article is to ... [more ▼]

Introduction: The neural mechanisms underlying electrophysiological changes observed in patients with disorders of consciousness following a coma remain poorly understood. The aim of this article is to investigate the mechanisms underlying the differences in spontaneous electroencephalography between patients in vegetative/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, minimally conscious state, emergence of the minimally conscious state and age-matched healthy control subjects. <br />Methods: Forty recording of spontaneous scalp electroencephalography were performed in 27 patients who were comatose on admission, and on healthy controls. Multivariate Granger Causality and Transfer Entropy were applied on the data. <br />Results: Distinctive patterns of putative bottlenecks of information were associated to each conscious state. Healthy controls are characterized by a greater amount of synergetic contributions from duplets of variables. <br />Conclusion: A novel set of measures was tested to get a novel insight on the pattern of information transfer in a network of scalp electrodes in patients with disorders of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailAutomated analysis of background EEG and reactivity during therapeutic hypothermia in comatose patients after cardiac arrest
Noirhomme, Quentin ULg; Lehembre, Rémy; Lugo, Zulay et al

in Clinical EEG and Neuroscience : Official Journal of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (ENCS) (2014)

Visual analysis of electroencephalography (EEG) background and reactivity during therapeutic hypothermia provides important outcome information, but is time-consuming and not always consistent between ... [more ▼]

Visual analysis of electroencephalography (EEG) background and reactivity during therapeutic hypothermia provides important outcome information, but is time-consuming and not always consistent between reviewers. Automated EEG analysis may help quantify the brain damage. Forty-six comatose patients in therapeutic hypothermia, after cardiac arrest, were included in the study. EEG background was quantified with burst-suppression ratio (BSR) and approximate entropy, both used to monitor anesthesia. Reactivity was detected through change in the power spectrum of signal before and after stimulation. Automatic results obtained almost perfect agreement (discontinuity) to substantial agreement (background reactivity) with a visual score from EEG-certified neurologists. Burst-suppression ratio was more suited to distinguish continuous EEG background from burst-suppression than approximate entropy in this specific population. Automatic EEG background and reactivity measures were significantly related to good and poor outcome. We conclude that quantitative EEG measurements can provide promising information regarding current state of the patient and clinical outcome, but further work is needed before routine application in a clinical setting. [less ▲]

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See detailA vibrotactile P300-based BCI for consciousness detection and communication
Lugo, Zulay; Rodriguez, Javi; Lechner, Alexander et al

in Clinical EEG and Neuroscience : Official Journal of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (ENCS) (2014)

Brain–computer interface (BCI) has been used for many years for communication in severely disabled patients. BCI based on electrophysiological signals has enabled communication, using auditory or visual ... [more ▼]

Brain–computer interface (BCI) has been used for many years for communication in severely disabled patients. BCI based on electrophysiological signals has enabled communication, using auditory or visual stimuli to elicit event-related potentials (ERPs). The aim of this study was to determine whether patients with locked-in syndrome (LIS) could elicit a P300 wave, using a vibrotactile oddball paradigm for establishing somatosensory BCI-based communication. Six chronic LIS patients performed 2electroencephalography (EEG)-based vibrotactile P300 oddball tasks. After a simple mental counting task of the target stimuli, participants were instructed to answer 5 questions by counting the vibration on either the right wrist for “yes” or the left wrist for “no.” All participants were able to elicit a P300 wave using the vibrotactile oddball paradigm BCI task. In the counting task, 4 patients got accuracies of 100% (average above chance). In the communication task, one patient achieved 100% accuracy (average above chance). We have shown the feasibility of eliciting a P300 response using vibrotactile stimulation in patients with LIS. The present study provides evidence that this approach can be used for EEG-based BCI communications in this patient group. This is the first study to prove the feasibility of a BCI based on somatosensory (vibratory) stimulation in a group of braininjured patients. Furthermore, this approach could be used for the detection of consciousness in non-communicating patients due to severe brain injuries. [less ▲]

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See detailBrain Computer Interfaces and diagnosis
Chatelle, Camille ULg; LAUREYS, Steven ULg; Noirhomme, Quentin ULg

in Grübler, Gerd; Hildt, Elisabeth (Eds.) Brain-Computer-Interfaces in their ethical, social and cultural contexts (2014)

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See detailMind-matter interactions in severe brain injury and coma
Charland-Verville, Vanessa ULg; Laureys, Steven ULg

in Fundacao Bial (Ed.) Behind and Beyond the Brain (2014)

The past fifteen years have provided an unprecedented collection of discoveries that bear upon our scientific understanding of recovery of consciousness in the human brain following severe brain damage ... [more ▼]

The past fifteen years have provided an unprecedented collection of discoveries that bear upon our scientific understanding of recovery of consciousness in the human brain following severe brain damage. Highlighted among these discoveries are unique demonstrations that patients with little or no behavioral evidence of conscious awareness may retain critical cognitive capacities and the first scientific demonstrations that some patients, with severely injured brains and very longstanding conditions of limited behavioral responsiveness, may nonetheless harbor latent capacities for recovery. Included among such capacities are particularly human functions of language and higher-level cognition that either spontaneously or through direct interventions may reemerge even at long time intervals or remain unrecognized. When patients in “persistent vegetative state” (recently also coined unresponsive wakefulness syndrome) show minimal signs of consciousness but are unable to reliably communicate the term minimally responsive or minimally conscious state (MCS) is used. MCS was recently subcategorized based on the complexity of patients' behaviors: MCS+ describes high-level behavioral responses (i.e., command following, intelligible verbalizations or non-functional communication) and MCS- describes low-level behavioral responses (i.e., visual pursuit, localization of noxious stimulation or contingent behavior such as appropriate smiling or crying to emotional stimuli). Patients who show non-behavioral evidence of consciousness or communication only measurable via ancillary testing (i.e., functional MRI, positron emission tomography, EEG or evoked potentials) can be considered to be in a functional locked-in syndrome. An improved assessment of brain function in coma and related states is not only changing nosology and medical care but also offers a better-documented diagnosis and prognosis and helps to further identify the neural correlates of human consciousness. Taken together, recent studies show that awareness is an emergent property of the collective behavior of frontoparietal top-down connectivity. Within this network, external (sensory) awareness depends on lateral prefrontal/parietal cortices while internal (self) awareness correlates with precuneal/mesiofrontal midline activity. Of clinical importance, this knowledge now permits to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of patients with disorders of consciousness, which currently remains very challenging. New technological advances now also permit to show command-specific changes in fMRI, EEG or eye-pupil measurements providing motor-independent evidence of conscious thoughts and in some cases even of communication. We will conclude by discussing related ethical issues and the challenge of improving our clinical care and quality of life in these challenging patients with disorders of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailAmantadine, Apomorphine and Zolpidem in the Treatment of Disorders of Consciousness
Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Charland-Verville, Vanessa ULg; Thonnard, Marie ULg et al

in Current Pharmaceutical Design (2014), 20

Survivors of severe brain injuries may end up in a state of 'wakeful unresponsiveness' or in a minimally conscious state. Pharmacological treatments of patients with disorders of consciousness aim to ... [more ▼]

Survivors of severe brain injuries may end up in a state of 'wakeful unresponsiveness' or in a minimally conscious state. Pharmacological treatments of patients with disorders of consciousness aim to improve arousal levels and recovery of consciousness. We here provide a systematic overview of the therapeutic effects of amantadine, apomorphine and zolpidem in patients recovering from coma. Evidence from clinical trials using these commonly prescribed pharmacological agents suggests positive changes in the neurological status in patients, leading sometimes to dramatic improvements. These findings are discussed in the context of current hypotheses of these agents' therapeutic mechanisms on cerebral function. In order to enhance our understanding of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of these drugs, we suggest combining sensitive and specific behavioral tools with neuroimaging and electrophysiological measures in large randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental designs. We conclude that the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of amantadine, apomorphine and zolpidem need further exploration to determine which treatment would provide a better neurological outcome regarding the patient's etiology, diagnosis, time since injury and overall condition. [less ▲]

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See detailDetection of visual pursuit in patients in minimally conscious state: a matter of stimuli and visual plane?
Thonnard, Marie; Wannez, Sarah ULg; Keen, Shannan et al

in Brain injury (2014), 28(9), 1164-70

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine whether the assessment of pursuit eye movements in patients in minimally conscious state (MCS) is influenced by the choice of the visual stimulus (study ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine whether the assessment of pursuit eye movements in patients in minimally conscious state (MCS) is influenced by the choice of the visual stimulus (study 1) and by the moving plane (study 2). METHODS: Patients with MCS (MCS- and MCS+) in the acute (<1 month post-injury) or chronic (>1 month) setting were assessed. The Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R) procedure was used to test visual pursuit of a moving mirror, object and person (study 1, n = 88) and to test vertical and horizontal visual tracking (study 2, n = 94). RESULTS: Study 1: Patients with visual pursuit tracked preferentially the moving mirror over the moving person or object. Study 2: Patients displaying visual pursuit, especially in MCS- and in chronic setting, preferentially tracked on the horizontal rather than the vertical plane. CONCLUSION: The findings confirm the importance of using a mirror to assess visual pursuit in patients in MCS and of initiating testing using the horizontal plane, specifically in patients in MCS- and those in chronic setting. Assessment should then be done on the vertical plane if visual pursuit is not detected on the horizontal plane. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessing dynamical correlations between functional and structural brain connectivity
Liegeois, Raphaël ULg; Ziegler, Erik; Phillips, Christophe ULg et al

Poster (2014)

The link between resting­‐state functional connectivity (FC), measured by the correlations of the fMRI BOLD time courses, and structural connectivity (SC) has been repeatedly investigated recently ... [more ▼]

The link between resting­‐state functional connectivity (FC), measured by the correlations of the fMRI BOLD time courses, and structural connectivity (SC) has been repeatedly investigated recently. Meanwhile, the importance of considering the dynamics of neuronal processes has also been highlighted. In this work we show how the classical static (i.e. considered as constant) relationship between SC and FC could be enriched when the FC dynamics are taken into account. We use a sliding window approach to explore these dynamics and show that the window width should be chosen in a particular range in order to unveil statistically significant (i.e. not due to noise) fluctuations of the FC-­‐SC correlation. [less ▲]

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See detailA European survey on attitudes towards pain and end-of-life issues in locked-in syndrome
Demertzi, Athina ULg; Jox, Ralf J; Racine, Eric et al

in Brain Injury (2014), 28(9), 12091215

Objectives: Patients with locked-in syndrome often self-report a higher quality of life than generally expected. This study reports third-person attitudes towards several salient issues on locked-in ... [more ▼]

Objectives: Patients with locked-in syndrome often self-report a higher quality of life than generally expected. This study reports third-person attitudes towards several salient issues on locked-in syndrome. Methods: Close-ended survey among conference attendees from 33 European countries. Analysis included chi-square tests and logistic regressions. Results: From the 3332 respondents (33% physicians, 18% other clinicians, 49% other professions; 47% religious), 90% agreed that patients with locked-in syndrome can feel pain. The majority (75%) disagreed with treatment withdrawal, but 56% did not wish to be kept alive if they imagined themselves in this condition (p<0.001). Religious and southern Europeans opposed to treatment withdrawal more often than non-religious (p<0.001) and participants from the North (p=0.001). When the locked-in syndrome was compared to disorders of consciousness, more respondents endorsed that being in a chronic locked-in syndrome was worse than being in a vegetative state or minimally conscious state for patients (59%) than they thought for families (40%, p<0.001). Conclusions: Personal characteristics mediate opinions about locked-in syndrome. The dissociation between personal preferences and general opinions underlie the difference in perspective in disability. Ethical responses to dilemmas involving patients with locked-in syndrome should consider the diverging ethical attitudes of stakeholders. [less ▲]

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