Clinical differentiation and outcome evaluation in vegetative and minimally conscious state patients: The neurophysiological approach

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The neurophysiological approach to patients with disorders of consciousness allows recording of both central and peripheral nervous system electrical activities and provides a functional assessment. Data obtained using this approach can supplement information from clinical neurological examination, but also from the use of morphological neuroimaging techniques: computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Neurophysiological techniques, such as electroencephalography (EEG), evoked potentials, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and EEG in association with functional magnetic resonance imaging, allow monitoring of clinical conditions and can help in the formulation of a prognosis. The aim of this review is to describe the main neurophysiological techniques used in disorders of consciousness to evaluate residual cerebral function, to provide information on the neuronal dysfunction for outcome evaluation, and to differentiate clinically between the vegetative and minimally conscious states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalFunctional Neurology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012



  • Electroencephalogram
  • Evoked potentials
  • Minimally conscious state
  • Outcome
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Vegetative state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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