When a patient is in what is known as a minimally conscious state, they will still respond to certain stimuli when it is presented to them. This is a main difference in a patient who is minimally conscious, as opposed to one who is in a vegetative state. Neuroscientists are now discovering that different smells can be used as an effective stimuli to measure brain activity. Patients who were presented with foul scents were more likely to breathe in a shallower manner.
- Trying to decide if someone is truly brain-dead or if they will recover is one of the toughest decisions that clinicians face.
- There is no one test that can determine the difference in these cases.
- A new study suggests that the ability to recognize and avoid bad odors might suggest consciousness.
“Another interesting factor about anosmia is that it also can be partial and odor selective. Some people can smell, they just cannot detect specific odorants.”