Monash Bioethics Review

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 1–12

Are People in a Persistent Vegetative State Conscious?

  • Malcolm Horne

DOI: 10.1007/BF03351309

Cite this article as:
Horne, M. Monash Bioethics Review (2009) 28: 1. doi:10.1007/BF03351309


Recently, brain imaging has provided controversial evidence of persisting awareness in some people whose brains are so severely injured that consciousness is minimal or absent, but in whom prolongation of life depends on the provision of continuing medical care. The clinicians understanding of the persistent vegetative state is briefly outlined and the evidence provided by brain imaging of awareness in this condition is reviewed. Information regarding consciousness in progressive acquired dementias are considered in the context of management of these conditions. This leads to the conclusion that quality of consciousness was more important than its presence or absence in managing people with impaired consciousness.

Copyright information

© Monash University 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm Horne
    • 1
  1. 1.Deputy Director Florey Neurosciences Institute Principle Neurologist St Vincent’s Hospital Conjoint Professor Centre for NeuroscienceUniversity of MelbourneAustralia

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