Brain function has been improved in a patient who was in a minimally conscious state, by electrically stimulating a specific brain region with implanted electrodes. The achievement raises questions about the treatment of other patients who have been in this condition for years, the researchers say.via Nature
In the latest case study, neuroscientists describe how they implanted electrodes in the brain of a 38-year-old man who had been in a minimally conscious state for more than six years following a serious assault. By electrically stimulating a brain region called the central thalamus, they were able to help him name objects on request, make precise hand gestures, and chew food without the aid of a feeding tube (see page 600). The thalamus is involved in motor control, arousal and in relaying sensory signals — from the visual systems, for example — to the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain involved in consciousness.