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SIGNAL: Stanford Interdisciplinary Group in Neuroscience and Law


May 9, 2011 5:00pm - 6:30pm

Room 85

Are vegetative patients still "there"? Can they communicate with us? Can they make their own medical decisions, including whether or not to end life sustaining treatment?

For this SIGNAL presentation, Jon Bardin, a graduate student from Weill Cornell medical school, will present on his recent paper and important findings about what might be going on inside the brains of patients with disorders of consciousness.

Disorders of consciousness after stroke or severe brain injury are diagnosed with a clinical exam that is based on a patient's ability to demonstrate certain cognitive abilities at the bedside. However, recent neuroimaging studies of patients with disorders of consciousness have shown promise for the identification of cognitive function and communication capacity in patients who may not retain sufficient motor function to outwardly demonstrate such abilities for detection by these behavioral exams. I will describe these recent studies by our group and others, focusing both on the important advances they represent as well as their inherent limitations. Most importantly, I hope to start a conversation about the legal and bioethical implications of this work, in particular as they relate to medical decisionmaking and end-of-life care, as well as the potential admissibility of such tests as legal evidence.

Sponsored by the Center for Law and the Biosciences and Stanford Interdisciplinary Group in Neuroscience and Society.