Actual physical potentiality for consciousness

American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 9 (1):24-25 (2018)
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Abstract

Dr. Vukov analyzing patients with disorders of consciousness, proposed that medical well-regarded policy recommendations cannot be justified by looking solely to patients’ actual levels of consciousness (minimally conscious state – MCS versus vegetative state – VS), but that they can be justified by looking to patients’ potential for consciousness. One objective way to estimate this potential (actual physical possibility) is to consider a neurophysiologically informed strategy. Ideally such strategy would utilize objective brain activity markers of consciousness/unconsciousness. The Operational Architectonics (OA) theory of brain-mind functioning is an example of such a strategy. Besides being mathematically simple, neurophysiologically accurate, and compatible with the cognitive/phenomenal perspectives on consciousness, application of OA strategy to quantitative EEG analysis of patients in VS and MCS revealed that the absence of consciousness in VS is paralleled by impairment of overall EEG operational architecture. Specifically, neuronal assemblies become smaller, their life span shortened, and they became highly unstable and functionally disconnected (desynchronized). At the same time, fluctuating (minimal) awareness in patients in MCS was paralleled by partial restoration of EEG operational architecture (increased size, life span, and stability of neuronal assemblies, together with an increased number and strength of functional connections among them), approaching the level found in healthy fully conscious participants. Moreover OA strategy to EEG analysis allowed predicting the emergence of consciousness in VS patients after six years following the brain trauma. Therefore, the OA methodology could reliably predict which patients may regain consciousness, and thus determine which patients may have the potential for consciousness.

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Andrew And Alexander Fingelkurts
BM-Science - Brain and Mind Technologies Research Centre