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Researchers challenge findings of team that showed awareness in three patients in vegetative state

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f719 (Published 01 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f719
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

Questions have been raised about the findings of a study that hit the headlines two years ago claiming that electroencephalography had shown awareness in three patients who were in a vegetative state.

The 2011 study was carried out by the postdoctoral fellow Damian Cruse, the British neuroscientist Adrian Owen, and colleagues at the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Brain and Mind in London, Ontario, in collaboration with Cambridge University and the University of Liège. It used electroencephalography to look at the brain images of 16 patients, thought to be in a vegetative state, after they were asked to undertake two tasks: making a fist and wriggling their toes.1

Owen, a neuroscientist who previously worked at Cambridge, moved in 2011 …

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