References of "Laureys, Steven"
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See detailComa and consciousness: Paradigms (re)framed by neuroimaging.
Laureys, Steven ULg; Schiff, N.

in NeuroImage (2012)

The past 15years has 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 15years has 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 significant 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. Collectively, these observations have reframed scientific inquiry and further led to important new insights into mechanisms underlying consciousness in the human brain. These studies support a model of consciousness as the emergent property of the collective behavior of widespread frontoparietal network connectivity modulated by specific forebrain circuit mechanisms. We here review these advances in measurement and the scientific and broader implications of this rapidly progressing field of research. [less ▲]

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See detailComa and related disorders
Charland-Verville, Vanessa ULg; Habbal, Dina; Laureys, Steven ULg et al

in Swiss Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry (2012), 163(8), 265-272

Disorders of consciousness represent a major challenge in clinical practice. The last decade of neuroscience research brought new insights about brain function and neural correlates of these pathological ... [more ▼]

Disorders of consciousness represent a major challenge in clinical practice. The last decade of neuroscience research brought new insights about brain function and neural correlates of these pathological states of consciousness. Although behavioural evaluation still remains the gold standard, conscious behaviours are too often missed, leading to unwanted grey zones between conscious and unconscious patients. In order to increase the chances of detecting the signs of consciousness, scientists now focus on the development and validation of neuroimaging and electrophysiological paradigms in noncommunicative patients. Recent insights in this field also raise new questions of medical ethics. Indeed, for conscious patients, legal questions will occur about treatment plans, rehabilitation and communication strategies while for the unconscious patients, end-of-life decisions will take place after the patients’ condition is stated as “permanent” or “irreversible”. [less ▲]

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See detailGranger causality analysis of steady-state electroencephalographic signals during propofol-induced anaesthesia.
Barrett, Adam B.; Murphy, Michael; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(1), 29072

Changes in conscious level have been associated with changes in dynamical integration and segregation among distributed brain regions. Recent theoretical developments emphasize changes in directed ... [more ▼]

Changes in conscious level have been associated with changes in dynamical integration and segregation among distributed brain regions. Recent theoretical developments emphasize changes in directed functional (i.e., causal) connectivity as reflected in quantities such as 'integrated information' and 'causal density'. Here we develop and illustrate a rigorous methodology for assessing causal connectivity from electroencephalographic (EEG) signals using Granger causality (GC). Our method addresses the challenges of non-stationarity and bias by dividing data into short segments and applying permutation analysis. We apply the method to EEG data obtained from subjects undergoing propofol-induced anaesthesia, with signals source-localized to the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices. We found significant increases in bidirectional GC in most subjects during loss-of-consciousness, especially in the beta and gamma frequency ranges. Corroborating a previous analysis we also found increases in synchrony in these ranges; importantly, the Granger causality analysis showed higher inter-subject consistency than the synchrony analysis. Finally, we validate our method using simulated data generated from a model for which GC values can be analytically derived. In summary, our findings advance the methodology of Granger causality analysis of EEG data and carry implications for integrated information and causal density theories of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailA default mode of brain function in altered states of consciousness.
Guldenmund, Justus Pieter; Vanhaudenhuyse, Audrey ULg; Boly, Mélanie ULg et al

in Archives Italiennes de Biologie (2012), 150(2-3), 107-21

Using modern brain imaging techniques, new discoveries are being made concerning the spontaneous activity of the brain when it is devoid of attention-demanding tasks. Spatially separated patches of ... [more ▼]

Using modern brain imaging techniques, new discoveries are being made concerning the spontaneous activity of the brain when it is devoid of attention-demanding tasks. Spatially separated patches of neuronal assemblies have been found to show synchronized oscillatory activity behavior and are said to be functionally connected. One of the most robust of these is the default mode network, which is associated with intrinsic processes like mind wandering and self-projection. Furthermore, activity in this network is anticorrelated with activity in a network that is linked to attention to external stimuli. The integrity of both networks is disturbed in altered states of consciousness, like sleep, general anesthesia and hypnosis. In coma and related disorders of consciousness, encompassing the vegetative state (unresponsive wakefulness syndrome) and minimally conscious state, default mode network integrity correlates with the level of remaining consciousness, offering the possibility of using this information for diagnostic and prognostic purposes. Functional brain imaging is currently being validated as a valuable addition to the standardized behavioral assessments that are already in use. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessment of White Matter Injury and Outcome in Severe Brain Trauma: A Prospective Multicenter Cohort
Galanaud, Damien; Perlbarg, Vincent; Gupta, Rajiv et al

in Anesthesiology (2012), 117(6), 1300-1310

BACKGROUND:: Existing methods to predict recovery after severe traumatic brain injury lack accuracy. The aim of this study is to determine the prognostic value of quantitative diffusion tensor imaging ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND:: Existing methods to predict recovery after severe traumatic brain injury lack accuracy. The aim of this study is to determine the prognostic value of quantitative diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). METHODS:: In a multicenter study, the authors prospectively enrolled 105 patients who remained comatose at least 7 days after traumatic brain injury. Patients underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging, including DTI in 20 preselected white matter tracts. Patients were evaluated at 1 yr with a modified Glasgow Outcome Scale. A composite DTI score was constructed for outcome prognostication on this training database and then validated on an independent database (n = 38). DTI score was compared with the International Mission for Prognosis and Analysis of Clinical Trials Score. RESULTS:: Using the DTI score for prediction of unfavorable outcome on the training database, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.84 (95% CI: 0.75-0.91). The DTI score had a sensitivity of 64% and a specificity of 95% for the prediction of unfavorable outcome. On the validation-independent database, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.80 (95% CI: 0.54-0.94). On the training database, reclassification methods showed significant improvement of classification accuracy (P < 0.05) compared with the International Mission for Prognosis and Analysis of Clinical Trials score. Similar results were observed on the validation database. CONCLUSIONS:: White matter assessment with quantitative DTI increases the accuracy of long-term outcome prediction compared with the available clinical/radiographic prognostic score. [less ▲]

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See detailConnectivity graph analysis of the auditory resting state network in tinnitus.
MAUDOUX, Audrey ULg; Lefèbvre, Philippe ULg; Cabay, J.-E. et al

in Brain Research (2012), 1485

Thirteen chronic tinnitus patients and fifteen age-matched healthy controls were studied on a 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner during resting condition (i.e. eyes closed, no task performance ... [more ▼]

Thirteen chronic tinnitus patients and fifteen age-matched healthy controls were studied on a 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner during resting condition (i.e. eyes closed, no task performance). The auditory resting-state component was selected using an automatic component selection approach. Functional connectivity (correlations/anti-correlations) in the extracted network was portrayed by integrating the independent component analysis (ICA) approach with a graph theory method. Tinnitus and control groups showed different graph connectivity patterns. In the control group, the connectivity graph was divided into two distinct anti-correlated networks. The first one encompassed the auditory cortices and the insula. The second one encompassed frontoparietal and anterior cingulate cortices, brainstem, amygdala, basal ganglia/nucleus accumbens and parahippocampal regions. In the tinnitus group, only one of the two previously described networks was observed, encompassing the auditory cortices and the insula. Direct group comparison showed, in the tinnitus group, an increased functional connectivity between auditory cortices and the left parahippocampal region surviving multiple comparisons. We investigated a possible correlation between four tinnitus relevant measures (tinnitus handicap inventory (THI) and tinnitus questionnaire (TQ) scores, tinnitus duration and tinnitus intensity during the scanning session) and the connectivity pattern in the tinnitus population. We observed a significant positive correlation between the beta values of the posterior cingulate/precuneus region and the THI score. Our results show a modified functional connectivity pattern in tinnitus sufferers and highlight the role of the parahippocampal region in tinnitus physiopathology. They also point out the importance of the activity and connectivity pattern of the posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus region to the development of the tinnitus associated distress. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Tinnitus Neuroscience. [less ▲]

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See detailA sensitive scale to assess nociceptive pain in patients with disorders of consciousness.
Chatelle, Camille ULg; Majerus, Steve ULg; Whyte, John et al

in Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry (2012), 83(12), 1233-7

OBJECTIVE: To determine the sensitivity of the Nociception Coma Scale (NCS), the first scale developed to assess nociceptive pain in vegetative state and minimally conscious state patients, in comparing ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVE: To determine the sensitivity of the Nociception Coma Scale (NCS), the first scale developed to assess nociceptive pain in vegetative state and minimally conscious state patients, in comparing behavioural changes in response to noxious versus non-noxious stimulation. METHODS: The NCS was administered to assess patients' responses in three conditions: (1) baseline (observation of spontaneous behaviours), (2) non-noxious/tactile stimulation (taps on the patient's shoulder), and (3) noxious stimulation (pressure on the nail bed). RESULTS: We included 64 patients (27 vegetative state and 37 minimally conscious state; age range 20-82 years; 22 traumatic brain injury; 21 in the acute stage). The NCS total scores and subscores (motor, verbal and facial) were higher for the noxious versus the non-noxious stimulation conditions. We did not observe a difference between the non-noxious and the noxious stimulation conditions for the visual subscale. We also found a NCS cut-off value of 4 differentiating the patients receiving a noxious stimulation from patients receiving a non-noxious stimulation. The exclusion of the visual subscale increased the cut-off sensitivity (from 46% to 73%; specificity of 97% and accuracy of 85%). CONCLUSION: We propose a new version of the NCS excluding the visual subscale, the NCS-R, which constitutes a highly sensitive tool to assess responses to nociceptive pain in severely brain injured patients. [less ▲]

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See detailElectrophysiological investigations of brain function in coma, vegetative and minimally conscious patients.
Lehembre, Remy ULg; Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Lugo, Zulay et al

in Archives Italiennes de Biologie (2012), 150(2-3), 122-39

Electroencephalographic activity in the context of disorders of consciousness is a swiss knife like tool that can evaluate different aspects of cognitive residual function, detect consciousness and ... [more ▼]

Electroencephalographic activity in the context of disorders of consciousness is a swiss knife like tool that can evaluate different aspects of cognitive residual function, detect consciousness and provide a mean to communicate with the outside world without using muscular channels. Standard recordings in the neurological department offer a first global view of the electrogenesis of a patient and can spot abnormal epileptiform activity and therefore guide treatment. Although visual patterns have a prognosis value, they are not sufficient to provide a diagnosis between vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious state (MCS) patients. Quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG) processes the data and retrieves features, not visible on the raw traces, which can then be classified. Current results using qEEG show that MCS can be differentiated from VS/UWS patients at the group level. Event Related Potentials (ERP) are triggered by varying stimuli and reflect the time course of information processing related to the stimuli from low-level peripheral receptive structures to high-order associative cortices. It is hence possible to assess auditory, visual, or emotive pathways. Different stimuli elicit positive or negative components with different time signatures. The presence of these components when observed in passive paradigms is usually a sign of good prognosis but it cannot differentiate VS/UWS and MCS patients. Recently, researchers have developed active paradigms showing that the amplitude of the component is modulated when the subject's attention is focused on a task during stimulus presentation. Hence significant differences between ERPs of a patient in a passive compared to an active paradigm can be a proof of consciousness. An EEG-based brain-computer interface (BCI) can then be tested to provide the patient with a communication tool. BCIs have considerably improved the past two decades. However they are not easily adaptable to comatose patients as they can have visual or auditory impairments or different lesions affecting their EEG signal. Future progress will require large databases of resting state-EEG and ERPs experiment of patients of different etiologies. This will allow the identification of specific patterns related to the diagnostic of consciousness. Standardized procedures in the use of BCIs will also be needed to find the most suited technique for each individual patient. [less ▲]

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See detailResting-state EEG study of comatose patients: a connectivity and frequency analysis to find differences between vegetative and minimally conscious states.
Lehembre, Remy ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Vanhaudenhuyse, Audrey ULg et al

in Functional Neurology (2012), 27(1), 41-47

The aim of this study was to look for differences in the power spectra and in EEG connectivity measures between patients in the vegetative state (VS/UWS) and patients in the minimally conscious state (MCS ... [more ▼]

The aim of this study was to look for differences in the power spectra and in EEG connectivity measures between patients in the vegetative state (VS/UWS) and patients in the minimally conscious state (MCS). The EEG of 31 patients was recorded and analyzed. Power spectra were obtained using modern multitaper methods. Three connectivity measures (coherence, the imaginary part of coherency and the phase lag index) were computed. Of the 31 patients, 21 were diagnosed as MCS and 10 as VS/UWS using the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R). EEG power spectra revealed differences between the two conditions. The VS/UWS patients showed increased delta power but decreased alpha power compared with the MCS patients. Connectivity measures were correlated with the CRS-R diagnosis; patients in the VS/UWS had significantly lower connectivity than MCS patients in the theta and alpha bands. Standard EEG recorded in clinical conditions could be used as a tool to help the clinician in the diagnosis of disorders of consciousness. [less ▲]

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See detailMetabolic activity in external and internal awareness networks in severely brain-damaged patients.
Thibaut, Aurore ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Chatelle, Camille ULg et al

in Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine (2012), 44(6), 487-94

OBJECTIVE: An extrinsic cerebral network (encompassing lateral frontoparietal cortices) related to external/sensory awareness and an intrinsic midline network related to internal/self-awareness have been ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVE: An extrinsic cerebral network (encompassing lateral frontoparietal cortices) related to external/sensory awareness and an intrinsic midline network related to internal/self-awareness have been identified recently. This study measured brain metabolism in both networks in patients with severe brain damage. DESIGN: Prospective [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography and Coma Recovery Scale-Revised assessments in a university hospital setting. SUBJECTS: Healthy volunteers and patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS), minimally conscious state (MCS), emergence from MCS (EMCS), and locked-in syndrome (LIS). RESULTS: A total of 70 patients were included in the study: 24 VS/UWS, 28 MCS, 10 EMCS, 8 LIS and 39 age-matched controls. VS/UWS showed metabolic dysfunction in extrinsic and intrinsic networks and thalami. MCS showed dysfunction mostly in intrinsic network and thalami. EMCS showed impairment in posterior cingulate/retrosplenial cortices. LIS showed dysfunction only in infratentorial regions. Coma Recovery Scale-Revised total scores correlated with metabolic activity in both extrinsic and part of the intrinsic network and thalami. CONCLUSION: Progressive recovery of extrinsic and intrinsic awareness network activity was observed in severely brain-damaged patients, ranging from VS/UWS, MCS, EMCS to LIS. The predominance of intrinsic network impairment in MCS could reflect altered internal/self-awareness in these patients, which is difficult to quantify at the bedside. [less ▲]

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See detailThe ethics of managing disorders of consciousness
Demertzi, Athina ULg; Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg et al

in Schnakers, Caroline; Laureys, Steven (Eds.) Coma and disorders of consciousness (2012)

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See detailPrognosis of patients with altered states of consciousness
Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Ledoux, Didier; Vanhaudenhuyse, Audrey ULg et al

in Schnakers, Caroline; Laureys, Steven (Eds.) Coma and disorders of consciousness (2012)

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See detailFunctional imaging and impaired consciousness
Vanhaudenhuyse, Audrey ULg; Boly, Mélanie ULg; Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg et al

in Schnakers, Caroline; Laureys, Steven (Eds.) Coma and disorders of consciousness (2012)

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See detailAuditory resting-state network connectivity in tinnitus: a functional MRI study.
Maudoux, Audrey; Lefèbvre, Philippe ULg; Cabay, Jean-Evrard et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(5), 36222

The underlying functional neuroanatomy of tinnitus remains poorly understood. Few studies have focused on functional cerebral connectivity changes in tinnitus patients. The aim of this study was to test ... [more ▼]

The underlying functional neuroanatomy of tinnitus remains poorly understood. Few studies have focused on functional cerebral connectivity changes in tinnitus patients. The aim of this study was to test if functional MRI "resting-state" connectivity patterns in auditory network differ between tinnitus patients and normal controls. Thirteen chronic tinnitus subjects and fifteen age-matched healthy controls were studied on a 3 tesla MRI. Connectivity was investigated using independent component analysis and an automated component selection approach taking into account the spatial and temporal properties of each component. Connectivity in extra-auditory regions such as brainstem, basal ganglia/NAc, cerebellum, parahippocampal, right prefrontal, parietal, and sensorimotor areas was found to be increased in tinnitus subjects. The right primary auditory cortex, left prefrontal, left fusiform gyrus, and bilateral occipital regions showed a decreased connectivity in tinnitus. These results show that there is a modification of cortical and subcortical functional connectivity in tinnitus encompassing attentional, mnemonic, and emotional networks. Our data corroborate the hypothesized implication of non-auditory regions in tinnitus physiopathology and suggest that various regions of the brain seem involved in the persistent awareness of the phenomenon as well as in the development of the associated distress leading to disabling chronic tinnitus. [less ▲]

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See detailReduction in inter-hemispheric connectivity in disorders of consciousness.
Ovadia-Caro, Smadar; Nir, Yuval; Soddu, Andrea ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(5), 37238

Clinical diagnosis of disorders of consciousness (DOC) caused by brain injury poses great challenges since patients are often behaviorally unresponsive. A promising new approach towards objective DOC ... [more ▼]

Clinical diagnosis of disorders of consciousness (DOC) caused by brain injury poses great challenges since patients are often behaviorally unresponsive. A promising new approach towards objective DOC diagnosis may be offered by the analysis of ultra-slow (<0.1 Hz) spontaneous brain activity fluctuations measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during the resting-state. Previous work has shown reduced functional connectivity within the "default network", a subset of regions known to be deactivated during engaging tasks, which correlated with the degree of consciousness impairment. However, it remains unclear whether the breakdown of connectivity is restricted to the "default network", and to what degree changes in functional connectivity can be observed at the single subject level. Here, we analyzed resting-state inter-hemispheric connectivity in three homotopic regions of interest, which could reliably be identified based on distinct anatomical landmarks, and were part of the "Extrinsic" (externally oriented, task positive) network (pre- and postcentral gyrus, and intraparietal sulcus). Resting-state fMRI data were acquired for a group of 11 healthy subjects and 8 DOC patients. At the group level, our results indicate decreased inter-hemispheric functional connectivity in subjects with impaired awareness as compared to subjects with intact awareness. Individual connectivity scores significantly correlated with the degree of consciousness. Furthermore, a single-case statistic indicated a significant deviation from the healthy sample in 5/8 patients. Importantly, of the three patients whose connectivity indices were comparable to the healthy sample, one was diagnosed as locked-in. Taken together, our results further highlight the clinical potential of resting-state connectivity analysis and might guide the way towards a connectivity measure complementing existing DOC diagnosis. [less ▲]

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See detailA role for the default mode network in the bases of disorders of consciousness.
Fernandez-Espejo, Davinia; Soddu, Andrea ULg; Cruse, Damian et al

in Annals of Neurology (2012), 72(3), 335-43

OBJECTIVE: Functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN) is known to be reduced in patients with disorders of consciousness, to a different extent depending on their clinical severity ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVE: Functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN) is known to be reduced in patients with disorders of consciousness, to a different extent depending on their clinical severity. Nevertheless, the integrity of the structural architecture supporting this network and its relation with the exhibited functional disconnections are very poorly understood. We investigated the structural connectivity and white matter integrity of the DMN in patients with disorders of consciousness of varying clinical severity. METHODS: Fifty-two patients--19 in a vegetative state (VS), 27 in a minimally conscious state (MCS), and 6 emerging from a minimally conscious state (EMCS)--and 23 healthy volunteers participated in the study. Structural connectivity was assessed by means of probabilistic tractography, and the integrity of the resulting fibers was characterized by their mean fractional anisotropy values. RESULTS: Patients showed significant impairments in all of the pathways connecting cortical regions within this network, as well as the pathway connecting the posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus with the thalamus, relative to the healthy volunteers. Moreover, the structural integrity of this pathway, as well as that of those connecting the posterior areas of the network, was correlated with the patients' behavioral signs for awareness, being higher in EMCS patients than those in the upper and lower ranges of the MCS patients, and lowest in VS patients. INTERPRETATION: These results provide a possible neural substrate for the functional disconnection previously described in these patients, and reinforce the importance of the DMN in the genesis of awareness and the neural bases of its disorders. [less ▲]

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See detailFunctional neuroanatomy underlying the clinical subcategorization of minimally conscious state patients.
Bruno, Marie-Aurélie ULg; Majerus, Steve ULg; Boly, Mélanie ULg et al

in Journal of Neurology (2012), 259(6), 1087-98

Patients in a minimally conscious state (MCS) show restricted signs of awareness but are unable to communicate. We assessed cerebral glucose metabolism in MCS patients and tested the hypothesis that this ... [more ▼]

Patients in a minimally conscious state (MCS) show restricted signs of awareness but are unable to communicate. We assessed cerebral glucose metabolism in MCS patients and tested the hypothesis that this entity can be subcategorized into MCS- (i.e., patients only showing nonreflex behavior such as visual pursuit, localization of noxious stimulation and/or contingent behavior) and MCS+ (i.e., patients showing command following).Patterns of cerebral glucose metabolism were studied using [(18)F]-fluorodeoxyglucose-PET in 39 healthy volunteers (aged 46 +/- 18 years) and 27 MCS patients of whom 13 were MCS- (aged 49 +/- 19 years; 4 traumatic; 21 +/- 23 months post injury) and 14 MCS+ (aged 43 +/- 19 years; 5 traumatic; 19 +/- 26 months post injury). Results were thresholded for significance at false discovery rate corrected p < 0.05.We observed a metabolic impairment in a bilateral subcortical (thalamus and caudate) and cortical (fronto-temporo-parietal) network in nontraumatic and traumatic MCS patients. Compared to MCS-, patients in MCS+ showed higher cerebral metabolism in left-sided cortical areas encompassing the language network, premotor, presupplementary motor, and sensorimotor cortices. A functional connectivity study showed that Broca's region was disconnected from the rest of the language network, mesiofrontal and cerebellar areas in MCS- as compared to MCS+ patients.The proposed subcategorization of MCS based on the presence or absence of command following showed a different functional neuroanatomy. MCS- is characterized by preserved right hemispheric cortical metabolism interpreted as evidence of residual sensory consciousness. MCS+ patients showed preserved metabolism and functional connectivity in language networks arguably reflecting some additional higher order or extended consciousness albeit devoid of clinical verbal or nonverbal expression. [less ▲]

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See detailRecovery of cortical effective connectivity and recovery of consciousness in vegetative patients.
Rosanova, Mario; Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Casarotto, Silvia et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2012), 135(Pt 4), 1308-20

Patients surviving severe brain injury may regain consciousness without recovering their ability to understand, move and communicate. Recently, electrophysiological and neuroimaging approaches, employing ... [more ▼]

Patients surviving severe brain injury may regain consciousness without recovering their ability to understand, move and communicate. Recently, electrophysiological and neuroimaging approaches, employing simple sensory stimulations or verbal commands, have proven useful in detecting higher order processing and, in some cases, in establishing some degree of communication in brain-injured subjects with severe impairment of motor function. To complement these approaches, it would be useful to develop methods to detect recovery of consciousness in ways that do not depend on the integrity of sensory pathways or on the subject's ability to comprehend or carry out instructions. As suggested by theoretical and experimental work, a key requirement for consciousness is that multiple, specialized cortical areas can engage in rapid causal interactions (effective connectivity). Here, we employ transcranial magnetic stimulation together with high-density electroencephalography to evaluate effective connectivity at the bedside of severely brain injured, non-communicating subjects. In patients in a vegetative state, who were open-eyed, behaviourally awake but unresponsive, transcranial magnetic stimulation triggered a simple, local response indicating a breakdown of effective connectivity, similar to the one previously observed in unconscious sleeping or anaesthetized subjects. In contrast, in minimally conscious patients, who showed fluctuating signs of non-reflexive behaviour, transcranial magnetic stimulation invariably triggered complex activations that sequentially involved distant cortical areas ipsi- and contralateral to the site of stimulation, similar to activations we recorded in locked-in, conscious patients. Longitudinal measurements performed in patients who gradually recovered consciousness revealed that this clear-cut change in effective connectivity could occur at an early stage, before reliable communication was established with the subject and before the spontaneous electroencephalogram showed significant modifications. Measurements of effective connectivity by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with electroencephalography can be performed at the bedside while by-passing subcortical afferent and efferent pathways, and without requiring active participation of subjects or language comprehension; hence, they offer an effective way to detect and track recovery of consciousness in brain-injured patients who are unable to exchange information with the external environment. [less ▲]

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See detailBrain connectivity in disorders of consciousness.
Boly, Mélanie ULg; Massimini, Marcello; Garrido, Marta Isabel et al

in Brain connectivity (2012), 2(1), 1-10

The last 10 years witnessed a considerable increase in our knowledge of brain function in survivors to severe brain injuries with disorders of consciousness (DOC). At the same time, a growing interest ... [more ▼]

The last 10 years witnessed a considerable increase in our knowledge of brain function in survivors to severe brain injuries with disorders of consciousness (DOC). At the same time, a growing interest developed for the use of functional neuroimaging as a new diagnostic tool in these patients. In this context, particular attention has been devoted to connectivity studies-as these, more than measures of brain metabolism, may be more appropriate to capture the dynamics of large populations of neurons. Here, we will review the pros and cons of various connectivity methods as potential diagnostic tools in brain-damaged patients with DOC. We will also discuss the relevance of the study of the level versus the contents of consciousness in this context. [less ▲]

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See detailBurnout in healthcare workers managing chronic patients with disorders of consciousness.
Gosseries, Olivia ULg; Demertzi, Athina ULg; Ledoux, Didier et al

in Brain Injury (2012)

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the presence of burnout among professional caregivers managing patients with severe brain injury recovering from coma and working in neurorehabilitation ... [more ▼]

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the presence of burnout among professional caregivers managing patients with severe brain injury recovering from coma and working in neurorehabilitation centres or nursing homes. Methods: The Maslach Burnout Inventory was sent to 40 centres involved in the Belgian federal network for the care of vegetative and minimally conscious patients. The following demographic data were also collected: age, gender, profession, expertise in the field, amount of time spent with patients and working place. Results: Out of 1068 questionnaires sent, 568 were collected (53% response rate). Forty-five were excluded due to missing data. From the 523 healthcare workers, 18% (n = 93) presented a burnout, 33% (n = 171) showed emotional exhaustion and 36% (n = 186) had a depersonalization. Profession (i.e. nurse/nursing assistants), working place (i.e. nursing home) and the amount of time spent with patients were associated with burnout. The logistic regression showed that profession was nevertheless the strongest variable linked to burnout. Conclusions: According to this study, a significant percentage of professional caregivers and particularly nurses taking care of patients in a vegetative state and in a minimally conscious state suffered from burnout. Prevention of burnout symptoms among caregivers is crucial and is expected to promote more efficient medical care of these challenging patients. [less ▲]

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