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Abstract

Research using functional neuroimaging has demonstrated that a proportion of patients that are behaviourally non-responsive at the bedside are actually aware. The presence of awareness in these patients generates questions about their well-being, including the potential that these patients are suffering. I examine the existing neuroscientific research investigating the cognitive capacities of this patient population, and consider the ways in which these residual cognitive capacities allow patients to suffer. I argue that the capacity for suffering in these patients is much greater than other patients with disorders of consciousness, and that this should motivate further research into their subjective experiences, as well as interventions to reduce their potential suffering.

If you would like to attend, please e-mail Jane Beinart at jane.beinart@ethox.ox.ac.uk.