The vegetative state - a condition in which someone is awake but
unaware with no evidence of a working mind - is both emotive and
challenging. This condition and that of someone who gains partial
recovery of mental and neurological functions - known as the
minimally conscious state - have provoked intense debate and
considerable interest amongst scientists, health care
professionals, ethicists, philosophers and lawyers. This unique
special issue unites many experts in the field to review and
discuss the many advances made in our understanding of these
conditions. The strength of this special issue lies in the wide
range of topics discussed - from definitions and diagnostic
criteria to hotly debated topics such as whether a person in the
vegetative state is truly unaware. This edition will serve as both
a useful reference to those caring for people in these conditions
as well as to those investigating the physiological basis of human
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