Searching for evidence of consciousness in outwardly unresponsive patients presents significant clinical challenges as the spectrum of disorders of consciousness has become more clearly defined, with clinical examination, functional MRI, and electrophysiologic tests having complementary roles in the investigation of minimally conscious patients, those in a locked-in state, coma, or in a vegetative state. Serial bedside electrophysiologic testing can probe for higher order cortical responses temporally and spatially propagated through cortical networks, while long-latency event-related potentials may help differentiate patients with coma or vegetative state from a state of residual consciousness. Transcranial magnetic stimulation coregistered to high-density EEG may reveal widespread pulse-stimulated cortical activation of various brain regions. These emerging electrophysiologic techniques show promise as powerful diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic tools.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology