Divina Fernández-Espejo

I can only imagine; the overt versus covert paradox in the Vegetative State

We can only infer whether somebody is aware by looking at their external behaviour. But what if you are not capable to control your behaviour to show that you are aware? Over the last few years, brain imaging has revealed a subset of vegetative state patients who are aware, and even able to communicate with the researchers, despite appearing entirely physically unresponsive. I will discuss what current research tells us about the cause of such paradoxical abilities. I will argue that we may be uncovering a new (yet-to-define) motor syndrome, which is being misdiagnosed as a consciousness impairment.