#SfN15 recap: Neuroethics and the Minimally Conscious State, by Cameron McKay | PLOS Neuroscience Community

To address the challenges of MCS, Fins advocates for the use of neuroimaging as a neuroprosthetic communication tool; the administration of drugs that can alter brain states and speed the recovery of MCS patients; and the application of thalamic deep brain stimulation as a therapeutic intervention.

Fins believes there is a moral obligation to “advance and sustain” these neuroscience and neurotechnology projects that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who are minimally conscious. While it is unethical to deprive these patients of diagnostic accuracy, Fins considers it equally wrong to deprive them of proper rehabilitation, in the form of new drugs and devices that might allow for recovery and the ability to once again engage with others. It is therefore unethical, in his view, to deprive a conscious individual the opportunity to express human companionship and participate in the communities that arise from the ability to communicate. Moving forward, Fins believes scientists and society must recognize the civil rights of the minimally conscious so neuroscience can better serve and connect patients and their families.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: blogs.plos.org

The minimally conscious state (MCS) and the persistent vegistative state (PVS) are areas in which recent science has had tremendous breakthroughs, including the use of diffuse tensor imaging (DFI) in monitoring brain activity in these individuals. Coupled with medications, Dr. Finn describes these conscious states as neurally intact, “but, like the lightbulb, they aren’t always ‘on.” Exploring our moral and ethical duties to those who have been ignored in the past is now a absolute obligation.


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