#SfN15 recap: Neuroethics and the Minimally Conscious State, by Cameron McKay

Many of us recall the tense legal battle over ten years ago surrounding the end-of-life medical care of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who went into a vegetative state after going into cardiac arrest in 1990. This case, which polarized much of the country over the so-called “right-to-die,” highlights the bioethical concerns of patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), characterized by “wakeful unresponsiveness” as well as a lack of consciousness and self-awareness. However, as Joseph J. Fins, MD of the Weill Cornell Medical College wants you to know, advances in neuroimaging techniques have revealed considerable neural plasticity in several patients who might normally receive a PVS diagnosis. Dr. Fins’ talk at the Society for Neuroscience meeting last month, titled “Giving Voice to Consciousness: Neuroethics, Human Rights, and the Indispensability…


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