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静默的尖叫--关于植物人

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“他是个植物人。”这样的话让你的脑中浮现出这样的场景,一个人躺在床上,永远的失去了活力和意识。然而,你怎么知道他的意识已不再健全呢?当人们围着他把他当死人一般谈论着时,如果病人只是无法交流,却能理解谈话,这该是多么糟糕啊!
“He’s a vegetable.” The words evoke the image of a human being who lies permanently lifeless and unconscious. Yet how do we know that such a person’s mind isn’t still intact? How horrible it would be if the patient couldn’t communicate yet could understand the people standing around his hospital bed, talking about him as if he were dead.
加拿大Nova Scotia哈利法克斯戴尔豪斯大学心理学教授约翰·F·科诺里及其同事博士后雅尼克·马尚德不久前在芝加哥召开的心理生理学协会年会上做了该主题的报告,他们的主要观点是部分失去其他身体机能的病人脑部仍然在处理语言。
John F. Connolly, a psychology professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and postdoctoral fellow Yannick Marchand reported at the recent Society for Psychophysiological Research meeting in Chicago that a range of patients who are otherwise incapacitated are still processing language.
研究者们将注意力集中在了一种他们成为N400的脑波上。通常当人们听到或看到语法正确但语义不合理的语句时,这种脑波就会出现。例如,当一个清醒的人听到“这披萨太烫了,没法喝”这样的句子时,脑电图(EEG)显示出听到语句的瞬间N400波随即闪现。如果人脑没有解析语句,N400波则不会出现。
The researchers focused on a brain wave they call N400, which occurs when someone encounters a spoken or written sentence that is grammatically correct but semantically faulty. When a conscious person hears “The pizza is too hot to sing,” an electroencephalogram registers the presence of the N400 wave during the split second after the sentence is heard. If the person is not processing language, there is no N400.
从1999年开始,科诺里带领他的小组在25个严重脑损伤病人的身上实施了这项语义测试。最近四个被试分别因中风、药物过量、车祸和小型飞机坠毁导致了植物人,使用传统手段检测后确认认知功能丧失。然而,当研究者对四个被试说出不合理的语句时,他们都显现出正在解析语句的脑波特征。
Since 1999 Connolly’s group has administered such semantic tests to 25 patients with severe brain injuries—most recently four people who were so incapacitated by a stroke, a drug overdose, a car accident and a small-plane crash, respectively, that they were deemed without cognitive function by traditional measures. Yet when the researchers read bogus sentences to the four victims, they all displayed some degree of having processed language.
科诺里说,25个被试中超过一半显示出N400活动,但这并不表明他们如同健康人一样意识到语句中的问题。尽管一位于1999年参与实验的被试苏醒并清晰回忆了实验过程,但科诺里仍认为:“现在作出全或无的结论仍然过于武断。一些人也许只是反射性的处理语句,但另一些则可能是在有部分意识的基础上反应的。”
Connolly says more than half of the 25 subjects have shown N400 activity, but that may not indicate consciousness as a healthy person knows it .Although a patient studied in 1999 eventually recovered and recounted clear memories of the test, “it is very risky to make all-or-nothing conclusions,”Connolly says. “Some people may be doing this reflexively, on a very semiconscious level.”
有生命力的灵魂被闭锁在昏睡的躯体里,这样的可能性让研究者们不寒而栗,他们决定推进这项研究。科诺里建议为疑似植物人患者做N400波测试,这意味着可能在放弃治疗和开始决定性的康复治疗两个决定间作出与以往不同的选择。
Yet the possibility that live minds might be locked inside comatose bodies induces shivers in researchers determined to learn more. Connolly’s findings suggest that many supposedly vegetative patients should be tested for N400. It could mean the difference, he states, between deciding a victim is beyond help and initiating crucial rehabilitative therapy.
标签:尖叫 静默
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2010-02-11 15:13 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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