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Neural Correlates Of Consciousness And Related Disorders: From Phenotypic Descriptors Of Behavioral And Relative Consciousness To Cortico-Subcortical Circuitry

Abstract : We report a review of medical aspects of the consciousness. The behavioral dimension, phenotypic descriptors, relative consciousness and neural correlates of consciousness and related disorders were addressed successively in a holistic and chronological approach. Consciousness is relative, specific to each individual across time and space. Historically defined as the perception of the self and the environment, it cannot be separated from behaviors, entailing an idea of conscious behavior with metapractic and metagnostic aspects. Observation of spontaneous and evoked overt behavior distinguishes three main types of disorder of consciousness (DoC): coma, vegetative state or unresponsive wakefulness, and minimally conscious or relationally impoverished state. Modern functional exploration techniques, such as imaging, increase the understanding of DoCs and consciousness. Whether consciousness is a superior function and/or an instrumental function is discussed. Neural correlates can be subdivided into two wakefulness pathways (superior thalamic cholinergic and inferior extra-thalamic), and cortico-subcortical circuitry. The deep brain structures are those described in the well-known sensorimotor, associative and limbic loops, as illustrated in the mesolimbic model of DoC. The cortices can be segregated into several overlapping networks: (1) a global workspace including thalamo-cortical loops; (2) the default mode network (DMN) and related intrinsic connectivity networks (i.e., central executive, medial DMN and salience networks); (3) a 3-fold network comprising the fronto-parietal control system and its dorsal and ventral attentional sub-networks, the fronto-parietal executive control network, and the cingulo-opercular salience network; (4) the internal and external cortices, respectively medial, turned toward the self, and lateral, turned toward the environment. The network dynamics is the reflection of consciousness, notably anticorrelations such as the decrease in activity of the posterior cingulate-precuneus regions during attentional tasks. Thanks to recent advances in DoC pathophysiology, further significative therapeutic progress is expected, taking into account the societal context. This depends notably on the dissemination of medical knowledge and its transfer to a wider public.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, June 2, 2021 - 10:38:15 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 6:45:31 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, September 3, 2021 - 6:41:41 PM


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Jean-Jacques Lemaire, Bénédicte Pontier, Rémi Chaix, Youssef El Ouadih, Toufic Khalil, et al.. Neural Correlates Of Consciousness And Related Disorders: From Phenotypic Descriptors Of Behavioral And Relative Consciousness To Cortico-Subcortical Circuitry. Neurochirurgie, Elsevier Masson, 2021, 68, ⟨10.1016/j.neuchi.2021.05.003⟩. ⟨hal-03238493⟩



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