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Development of an fMRI-based communication protocol for unresponsive patients
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Recent studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have reported that a subset ofpatients suffering from Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome (UWS, or vegetative state) were able toreliably follow instructions and perform mental imagery or attention tasks. Based on these finding,efforts were directed towards developing a communication protocol based on command-following.However, only a handful of UWS patients managed to communicate successfully. The current studyaims to develop an fMRI-based communication protocol using simple motor commands (imaginemoving right hand and left foot). A single volunteer took part in the experiment. While inside thescanner, the participant was first instructed to imagine moving their right hand or left foot(command-following). The participant then answered a series of binary questions using motor imagery– imagine moving right hand to indicate ‘Yes’ and imagine moving left foot to indicate ‘No’. Overall,the results showed that the protocol can successfully decode a healthy participant’s answers to allquestions correctly. While promising, the protocol must be tested on actual UWS patients to validate its effectiveness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 24 p.
Keyword [en]
Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome; communication protocol; motor imagery; fMRI
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-121994OAI: diva2:936158
Educational program
Master's Programme in Cognitive Science
Available from: 2016-06-30 Created: 2016-06-13 Last updated: 2016-07-01Bibliographically approved

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Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

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