Understanding consciousness is the major unsolved problem in biology. One increasingly important method of studying consciousness is to study disorders of consciousness, e.g. brain damage and disease states leading to vegetative states, coma, minimally conscious states, etc. Many of these studies are very much in the public eye because of their relationship to controversies about coma patients (e.g. Terry Schiavo case in the US recently), and the relationship to one of the major philosophical, sociological, political, and religious questions of humankind.
This is the first book to summarize our current understanding of the neuroanatomical and functional underpinnings of human consciousness by emphasizing a lesional approach offered via the study of neurological patients. The selected contributors are all outstanding authors and undisputed leaders in their field.
- New chapters on the neuroanatomical basis of consciousness, functional intrinsic brain activity, anesthesia, as well as expanded coverage of the unresponsive wakefulness syndrome/ vegetative state and the minimally conscious state
- The first comprehensive, authoritative collection to describe disorders of consciousness and how they are used to study and understand the neural correlates of conscious perception in humans
- Includes revised and new chapters from the top international researchers in the field
A major focus of clinical neuropsychology and cognitive-behavioral neurology is the assessment and management of cognitive and behavioral changes that result from brain injury or disease. In most instances, the task of the neuropsychologist can be divided into one of two general categories. Perhaps the most common is where patients are known to be suffering from identi?ed neurological insults, such as completed strokes, neoplasms, major head traumas or other disease processes, and the clinician is asked to assess the impact of the resulting brain damage on behavior. The second involves differential diagnosis in cases of questionable insults to the central nervous system. Examples of the latter might be milder forms of head trauma, anoxia and dementia or suspected vascular compromise. In either instance, understanding the underlying pathology and its consequences depends in large part on an analysis of cognitive and behavioral changes, as well as obtaining a good personal and medical history. The clinical investigation will typically include assessing problems or changes in personality, social and environmental adaptations, affect, cognition, perception, as well as sensorimotor skills. Regardless of whether one approaches these questions having prior independent con?rmation of the pathology versus only a suspicion of pathology, a fairly comprehensive knowledge of functional neuroanatomy is considered critical to this process. Unfortunately as neuropsychologists we too frequently adopt a corticocentric view of neurological de?cits. We recognize changes in personality, memory, or problem solving capacity as suggestive of possible cerebral compromise.