Disorders of consciousness and communication. Ethical motivations and communication-enabling attributes of consciousness

Guglielmo Tamburrini, Donatella Mattia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Envisaged extensions of a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technique allowing communication with patients affected by disorders of consciousness are here examined in connection with subjective symptom reporting, informed consent, and continued medical care decision-making. The principles of medical beneficence, personal autonomy protection, and the right to participate in social life are isolated as appropriate sources of ethical motivations for the use of fMRI-enabled communication. Consciousness requirements for each communication context are identified on the basis of qualitative distinctions between the access, phenomenal, and narrative varieties of consciousness. Ethically motivated uses of fMRI-enabled communication are hierarchically organized in terms of progressively more demanding consciousness requirements for successful communication. The outcomes of this analysis can be used to curb unrealistic expectations of these new scientific developments, and to promote mutual trust between medical doctors, patient surrogates and families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-54
Number of pages4
JournalFunctional Neurology
Volume26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

Keywords

  • Autonomy
  • Communication
  • Disorders of consciousness
  • Ethics
  • Fundamental rights
  • Neurophilosophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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