Disputes about consciousness, its roots and requirements, are more than philosophical. They are of importance in real-world settings, especially in clinical contexts.

Clinicians routinely face the difficult situation of deciding whether a patient in an unresponsive state after severe brain injury may recover — or at least regain some minimally conscious state. This task is not easy, and the error rate in such cases reaches 40%. Still, immediate treatments, including pain medication, require timely decisions. These decisions often rest on limited data.

The term minimally conscious state (MCS) suggests some form of responsiveness to an induced stimulus, such as sound…

Ann-Sophie Barwich

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