Relationship between etiology and covert cognition in the minimally conscious state.
; ; Chatelle, Camille et al
in Neurology (2012), 78(11), 816-22
OBJECTIVES: Functional neuroimaging has shown that the absence of externally observable signs of consciousness and cognition in severely brain-injured patients does not necessarily indicate the true ... [more ▼]
OBJECTIVES: Functional neuroimaging has shown that the absence of externally observable signs of consciousness and cognition in severely brain-injured patients does not necessarily indicate the true absence of such abilities. However, relative to traumatic brain injury, nontraumatic injury is known to be associated with a reduced likelihood of regaining overtly measurable levels of consciousness. We investigated the relationships between etiology and both overt and covert cognitive abilities in a group of patients in the minimally conscious state (MCS). METHODS: Twenty-three MCS patients (15 traumatic and 8 nontraumatic) completed a motor imagery EEG task in which they were required to imagine movements of their right-hand and toes to command. When successfully performed, these imagined movements appear as distinct sensorimotor modulations, which can be used to determine the presence of reliable command-following. The utility of this task has been demonstrated previously in a group of vegetative state patients. RESULTS: Consistent and robust responses to command were observed in the EEG of 22% of the MCS patients (5 of 23). Etiology had a significant impact on the ability to successfully complete this task, with 33% of traumatic patients (5 of 15) returning positive EEG outcomes compared with none of the nontraumatic patients (0 of 8). CONCLUSIONS: The overt behavioral signs of awareness (measured with the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised) exhibited by nontraumatic MCS patients appear to be an accurate reflection of their covert cognitive abilities. In contrast, one-third of a group of traumatically injured patients in the MCS possess a range of high-level cognitive faculties that are not evident from their overt behavior. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 5 (0 ULg)