For the first time, neuroscientists have found a connection between the cortex and its outermost layer, according to Michael D. Fox, MD, PhD, a researcher on this study. To conduct the study, Fox and colleagues recruited 36 patients with brainstem lesions. 12 of these were in a coma and the remaining 24 conscious.
Those subjects who were unconscious showed damage to a small area of the brainstem known as the rostral dorsolateral pontine tegmentum. “When it is damaged, almost every patient became comatose,” Fox said.
Fox and colleagues believe that someday we may better understand those who are in a coma or a vegetative state, and may even find novel treatment options to help those patients “wake up.”
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