The scientific study of coma and related states
The past 15 years have provided an unprecedented collection of discoveries that bear upon our scientific understanding of consciousness. Taken together, recent studies show that awareness is an emergent property of the collective behavior of frontoparietal top-down connectivity. Within this network, external (sensory) awareness depends on lateral prefrontal/parietal cortices while internal (self) awareness correlates with precuneal/mesiofrontal midline activity. An improved assessment of brain function in coma and related states is not only changing nosology and medical care but also offers a better-documented diagnosis and prognosis and helps to further identify the neural correlates of human consciousness. This chapter provides an overview of the scientific study of coma and related states at the macroscopic systems level.