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Autonomic Assessment during Recognition of the Mother’s Voice in a Persistent Vegetative State Patient (pp. 429-434) $40.00
Authors:  Calixto Machado, Mario Estévez, Mauricio Chinchilla, Jesús Pérez-Nellar, Joel Gutiérrez, Ana Olivares, Carlos Beltrán, Yazmina Machado, and Yanín Machado
Abstract:
By definition, persistent vegetative state (PVS) cases should be isolated from the outer world. Consequently, one of the most essential challenges in patients with severe brain damage is to assess their residual conscious perception of the environment. Moreover, other key point is to evaluate whether these responses also endow autonomic changes with possible emotional content. Heart rate variability (HRV) is considered a major index of the sympathetic/parasympathetic balance acting on the heart, and a powerful objective descriptor of individual differences in controlling the emotional conditions or responses to external and internal stimuli. We report an 8-year-old boy who after a near drowning remained in a PVS for 4 years before the study. We investigated whether there was significant differential brain activation in response to hearing his mother’s voice (mom’s voice), compared with the voices of unknown women (sham voice). During the sham voice experimental condition there was a significant increase in the HRV very low frequency (VLF) band, and a significant decrease in the HRV high frequency (HF) band, indicating sympathetic triggering and a reduction of parasympathetic activity. Nonetheless, during the mom’s voice condition, there was again an increase in the VLF band, but a significant recovery of the HF band also occurred, revealing both a sympathetic and parasympathetic activation. We conclude that our results here suggest recognition of the mom’s voice with an emotional content, indicating high-level residual linguistic processing, connected with neural network controlling emotion. 


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Autonomic Assessment during Recognition of the Mother’s Voice in a Persistent Vegetative State Patient (pp. 429-434)