Detecting awareness in the vegetative state.

Owen, A.M., Coleman, M.R., Boly, M., Davis, M.H., Laureys, S., & Pickard, J.D.
Science (New York, N.Y.)
Brain activity of patient in vegetative state responds to instructions.


Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to measure neural responses in a vegetative state patient and twelve healthy control participants.

Experiment 1: participants were presented with spoken sentences

(e.g. “there was milk and sugar in his coffee”).

Experiment 2: participants were instructed to imagine either visiting different rooms in a house or playing tennis at different points during the scan.


Experiment 1: speech-specific neural activity (in bilateral middle and superior temporal gyri regions) was observed in both the vegetative state patient and controls (no difference).

Experiment 2: brain activity specifically corresponding to the mental imagery tasks was observed in the patient (tennis task: supplementary motor area; spatial navigation task: parahippocampal gyrus, posterior parietal cortex and lateral premotor cortex).

Again these results were indistinguishable from those of controls.

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22:36pm 4 Jan, 2013

Anyone got a good review paper on the posterior parietal cortex?

12:07pm 14 Nov, 2012

Check out this weeks Panorama on BBC1 - it's all about this research!

16:48pm 30 Dec, 2012

anyone got it on dvd?

22:33pm 4 Jan, 2013

No - but I really want it too!

14:41pm 3 Oct, 2012

If you like this paper - you should check out Adrian Owen's 2010 paper - it's a cracker!

22:39pm 4 Jan, 2013

I second that!

22:47pm 4 Jan, 2013

Where can I find it?

14:41pm 3 Oct, 2012

Does anyone know of any papers that are similar to this one? It's really interesting and highly relevant for a project I'm working on.

14:40pm 3 Oct, 2012

Most amazing research I've heard of this year. Please send me to Adrian Owen if I ever end up in a vegetative state!

22:47pm 4 Jan, 2013

Haha - I like it!