Friday, August 16, 2013

New 'Consciousness Meter' Could Aid Brain-Injury Treatments

An artist's depiction of consciousness, emerging from the mind 

A new technique may measure levels of consciousness in patients with brain injuries.

A new technique that can determine a person's level of consciousness could benefit patients who have suffered brain damage. These patients range from those who are fully aware but are unable to respond — known as "locked-in syndrome" — to those in a vegetative state, oblivious to the world.

The technique, which entails sending a magnetic pulse across the brain and measuring the brain's response to it, has the potential to measure consciousness even when the patient cannot reply to other stimuli, such as light, sound or hand squeezing.

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