Open Access Research article

Assessment of localisation to auditory stimulation in post-comatose states: use the patient’s own name

Lijuan Cheng1, Olivia Gosseries2, Limei Ying1, Xiaohua Hu3, Dan Yu3, Hongxing Gao3, Minhui He1, Caroline Schnakers2, Steven Laureys2 and Haibo Di12*

Author affiliations

1 International Vegetative State and Consciousness Science Institute, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, China

2 Coma Science Group, Cyclotron Research Centre and Neurology Department, University and University Hospital of Liege, Liege, Belgium

3 Rehabilitation Center for Brain Damage, Wujing Hospital of Hangzhou City, Hangzhou, China

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Citation and License

BMC Neurology 2013, 13:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-27

Published: 18 March 2013



At present, there is no consensus on how to clinically assess localisation to sound in patients recovering from coma. We here studied auditory localisation using the patient’s own name as compared to a meaningless sound (i.e., ringing bell).


Eighty-six post-comatose patients diagnosed with a vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome or a minimally conscious state were prospectively included. Localisation of auditory stimulation (i.e., head or eyes orientation toward the sound) was assessed using the patient’s own name as compared to a ringing bell. Statistical analyses used binomial testing with bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons.


37 (43%) out of the 86 studied patients showed localisation to auditory stimulation. More patients (n=34, 40%) oriented the head or eyes to their own name as compared to sound (n=20, 23%; p<0.001).


When assessing auditory function in disorders of consciousness, using the patient’s own name is here shown to be more suitable to elicit a response as compared to neutral sound.

Localisation to sound; Auditory localisation; Vegetative state; Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome; Minimally conscious state; Own name; Disorders of consciousness