Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Patients in vegetative state can still learn
An international team of researchers have found that brains of patients in vegetative and minimally conscious state still appear to have the ability to learn. The team hopes that the finding will lead to a simple test will enable practitioners to assess the patient’s consciousness without the need of imaging. Researchers from University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the University of Cambridge, UK, and the Institute of Cognitive Neurology, Argentina used the classical Pavlonian conditioning to test the responsiveness of patients in vegetative state. The researchers played a tone immediately prior to blowing air into a patient’s eye. After some time training, they found that the patient’s would start blinking when the tone played but before the air puff to the eye.