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Table 2 Key features of consciousness (= multimodal situational survey) in healthy subjects and in patients with Disorders of Consciousness

From: Indicators and criteria of consciousness: ethical implications for the care of behaviourally unresponsive patients

Feature Description in healthy subjects Description in patients with DoCs
Qualitative richness Conscious experience is qualified by distinct sensory modalities and submodalities Conscious contents (if any) might be limited in both sensory modalities and submodalities. They can be evaluated based on brain damage and residual behaviours (e.g. sniffing for smelling)
Situatedness Conscious experience is specified by the subject´s spatiotemporal condition Spatiotemporal framing, as well as bodily experience, might be changeable and discontinuous/fragmented
Intentionality Consciousness is about something other than its neuronal underpinnings Possible residual consciousness might be still intentional but less egocentric and more allocentric. Arguably decoding from the visual cortical system may indicate what residual visual experience is about
Integration The components of the conscious experience are perceived as a unified whole The elements of a scene might be perceived independently or at different levels of detail
Dynamics and stability Conscious experiences include both dynamic changes and short-term stabilization Being the anticorrelation between DMN and DAT compromised, residual conscious processing might be very unstable without any capacity for stabilization. Also the updating (dynamics) of conscious experience can be compromised