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EEG Found to Detect Minimal Consciousness



EEG or an electroencephalogram is a diagnostic machine that records or detects the electrical activity of the brain. It does this by measuring the fluctuations of voltage that result from the currents flowing in between the neurons.

EEG: A Brief Intro

EEGs are often used to diagnose, monitor, or evaluate different brain conditions or disorders, from distinguishing between seizures to cortical brain disorders and even variants of migraines. Specifically, EEGs are used in the following:

  • Determining root causes for syncope of fainting

  • An adjunct test to confirm brain death

  • Determine whether a patient is viable to be weaned off epileptic medications

  • In certain circumstances, serves as prognosticating in coma patients

To determine the gravity or extent of brain disorders, most physicians don’t use EEG alone. It is usually done together with other diagnostic tests or procedures.

Aside from determining brain disorders, EEG scans are also done for other procedures such as:

  • Monitoring for anesthesia patients

  • Indirect indicator of perfusion during carotid endarterectomy

  • Monitoring of amobarbital effect when the Wada test is being employed

EEG scans are also used in the field of research, especially in neuroscience, cognitive or behavioral science, psychophysiological research, and neurolinguistics. This is because EEG scans offer a significant advantage over other tests. An EEG is also a perfect choice to prevent more invasive procedures such as Electrocorticography, a procedure in which electrodes are placed in the actual surface of the brain.

What EEGs Can Detect?

EEG scans can actually provide significant data when it comes to brain activity. It can detect covert processing or the type of processing that doesn’t require a response, it can also be used to patients who are not capable of making movements or motor responses. EEGs are even powerful tools that can give us an idea of how the brain works during the different phases of life. For example, sleep EEG can determine the aspects of maturation in an adolescent brain.

EEGs and Detecting Minimal Consciousness

Results of recent studies seem to add more to the list of advantages EEGs have when it comes to evaluating brain activity and function. A recent study revealed that EEGs can now detect a state called minimal consciousness making it easier for physicians and experts to differentiate it from a vegetative state.

Differentiating patients with minimally conscious state from the vegetative state has been a challenge for physicians over the years. It is a time-consuming process and misdiagnoses often happen as a result of subjectivity among the health care professionals. But a team of experts found a way to solve this issue and distinguish between the two conditions.

By playing music to coma patients and monitoring the brain activity through an EEG, the team found that patients with MCS or minimally conscious state were able to send signals between the temporal cortexes to the frontal cortex where sounds are usually processed. Patients in the vegetative state didn’t show the same pattern of the signal.