Thalamic stimulation helps patient in a minimally conscious state

A patient who had been in a “minimally conscious state” for six years regained responsiveness after stimulation via electrodes implanted in the thalamus. Now he can “name objects on request, make precise hand gestures, and chew food without the aid of a feeding tube”.

Nature news

Nature news and views

N. D. Schiff, J. T. Giacino, K. Kalmar, J. D. Victor, K. Baker, M. Gerber, B. Fritz, B. Eisenberg, J. O’Connor, E. J. Kobylarz, S. Farris, A. Machado, C. McCagg, F. Plum1, J. J. Fins & A. R. Rezai. Behavioural improvements with thalamic stimulation after severe traumatic brain injury. Nature 448, 600-603 (2 August 2007)

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One thought on “Thalamic stimulation helps patient in a minimally conscious state

  1. Fascinating. Puts me in mind of a paper last year in Science showing that a woman in a vegetative state showed sensible patterns of cortical BOLD signal when instructed to imagine either playing tennis, or visiting the rooms of her house — and all the ethical concerns brought up over experimenting on people who are “minimally conscious”. Deep-brain stimulation seems a step quite a bit beyond fMRI…

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