In search of hidden minds

In search of hidden minds

Joseph J. Fins and Nicholas D. Schiff

Scientific American Mind, November/December, 44-51 (2016)


Finding signs of conscious among severely brain-injured patients is medically challenging-and morally imperative.

Patients with disorders of consciousness, including those in the so-called minimally conscious state, are often presumed to be in a permanent vegetative state—an error that limits their access to rehabilitation and any chance at recovery. These patients can be difficult to identify because their awareness of themselves, others and their surroundings breaks through only episodically and inconsistently. Interventions that stimulate the brain networks involved in consciousness, though, are helping some severely brain-injured people regain the ability to communicate.

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