Friday, September 29, 2017


Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 A team of researchers from the Institut des Sciences Congnitives 9ISC) Marc Jeannerod in Lyon, France have restored signs of consciousness to a 35-year-old man who had been in a vegetative state for 15 years through a method called vagus nerve stimulation. Until now, recovery from a comatose state has been an almost impossible situation, with uncertain responses in the best situations.
 Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) sends mild pulses of electrical energy at regular intervals to the brain through the vagus nerve. The pulses are sent through the vagus nerve because it connects the brain to various parts of the body and is critical to maintaining certain essential body functions, like alertness and walking.
 In the study, a vagus nerve stimulator was implanted on the chest of the patient, who was in a vegetative state due to a car accident. After a month of VNS, the patient began to show improved response capabilities, such as following an object with the eyes or turning the head when asked. At the same time, the patient experienced an improved attention span and was able to respond to perceived 'threats'. Furthermore, a PET scan observed an increase in metabolic activity in the brain's cortical and subcortical regions which translated to improved neural functional connectivity.
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