Consciousness. Know it when you see it?

Because doctors are shunning the latest diagnostic techniques available, and going instead with their instincts, they’re misdiagnosing levels of consciousness. Experimenters found that of 44 patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state, 18 were found to be in a minimally conscious state (so, capable of feeling pain). And of 41 patients diagnosed as being in a minimally conscious state, 4 had emerged from it without their doctors noticing.

When a patient is apparently comatose, the techniques of the phenomenologist are unavailable to the practicing MD. Never mind anti-behaviourist scruples, detecting consciousness is, in practice, a process of skilled behavioural observation.

For the findings go here. For an article on the findings in The Economist, go here.

Related articles:
£1.99 - small The Search for Neural Correlates of Consciousness
By Jakob Hohwy, Monash University
(Vol. 2, April 2007)
Philosophy Compass

£1.99 - small Theories of Consciousness
By Uriah Kriegel, University of Arizona/University of Sydney
(Vol. 1, February 2006)
Philosophy Compass

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