Event-related brain potentials in a patient with akinetic mutism

Boris Kotchoubey, Manfred Schneck, Simone Lang, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The clinical pattern of complete akinetic mutism (AM) was observed in a patient with a bilateral infarction of the anterior cerebral arteries extending to the rostral cingulate cortex and the supplementary motor areas. Since the patient was unable to produce any overt response, event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were used to obtain information about cortical processing of stimuli. Oddball tasks with simple acoustical stimuli and semantic categories were used. Verbal processing was further assessed by comparing event-related potentials to words compatible versus incompatible to the semantic context. Although the pattern of cortical responses was abnormal, differential responses were clearly obtained to semantically different word classes. Thus, the hypothesis about cortical non-responsivity of AM patients, drawn from several previous reports, was not supported. An ERP examination in AM patients can deliver information about their mental state, provided that the stimuli and tasks possess a wide range of informational complexity and motivational value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalNeurophysiologie Clinique / Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003


  • Akinetic mutism
  • Cognitive processes
  • Event-related potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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