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Minimally conscious state
Classification and external resources
MeSH D018458

A minimally conscious state (MCS) is a condition distinct from coma or the vegetative state,[1] in which a patient exhibits deliberate, or cognitively mediated, behavior[2] often enough, or consistently enough, for clinicians to be able to distinguish it from entirely unconscious, reflexive responses.

Auditory processing can differ between MCS and PVS.[3] fMRI response to the patient's own name has been suggested as a technique to distinguish between MCS and PVS.[4]



Patients with severe brain damage may progress through stages of unconsciousness with eyes closed (coma), to unconsciousness with eyes open (vegetative state), to a stage of "inconsistent, erratic responsiveness" (minimally conscious state). [5]

It is not known whether patients in MCS can process emotion. MCS is thought to have a more favorable outcome than persistent vegetative state.[6]

Doctors in the USA recently succeeded in bringing a man who had been under MCS for six years back to consciousness by planting electrodes deep inside his brain. If the success can be more widely replicated, it offers hope for many of the up to 300,000 MCS sufferers in the USA today. [7] Brain damage actually differs case to case and terms are not well set.

Notable MCS patients


  1. ^ Giacino JT, Ashwal S, Childs N, et al. (February 2002). "The minimally conscious state: definition and diagnostic criteria". Neurology 58 (3): 349–53. PMID 11839831.  
  2. ^ Schnakers C, Vanhaudenhuyse A, Giacino J, et al. (2009). "Diagnostic accuracy of the vegetative and minimally conscious state: clinical consensus versus standardized neurobehavioral assessment". BMC Neurol 9: 35. doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-35. PMID 19622138. PMC 2718857.  
  3. ^ Boly M, Faymonville ME, Peigneux P, et al. (February 2004). "Auditory processing in severely brain injured patients: differences between the minimally conscious state and the persistent vegetative state". Arch. Neurol. 61 (2): 233–8. doi:10.1001/archneur.61.2.233. PMID 14967772.  
  4. ^ Di HB, Yu SM, Weng XC, et al. (March 2007). "Cerebral response to patient's own name in the vegetative and minimally conscious states". Neurology 68 (12): 895–9. doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000258544.79024.d0. PMID 17372124.  
  5. ^ Katz D I. "Minimally Conscious States"., April 17, 2001
  6. ^ Bekinschtein T, Niklison J, Sigman L, et al. "Emotion processing in the minimally conscious state". Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2004;75:788
  7. ^ "Electrodes stir man from six-year coma-like state". Cosmos Magazine. 02 AugustThis therapy is still experimental and still without perfect knoweldge.2007.  

Further reading



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