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Preserved Aspects of Consciousness in Disorders of Consciousness A Review and Conceptual Analysis

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The last decade has seen impressive and intriguing advances in the exploration of vestiges of consciousness in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). Consciousness is an extremely complex area of research so it is difficult to provide unequivocal interpretations of these new findings from DOC-studies. This review therefore provides a conceptual analysis of a series of key studies in this area of research. The main upshot is that different studies of preserved consciousness in DOC are best seen as targeting different aspects of consciousness (such as arousal, awareness, volition, global availability, access, attention, self, and first-person perspective) rather than a unitary property of being conscious. These different aspects of consciousness thus seem to dissociate and fractionate in DOC. This provides a deeper understanding of the nature and structure of consciousness in general, and it provides suggestions for future research in DOC and the science of consciousness. Further methodological, conceptual, and ethical issues are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Philosophy Department, Monash University, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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