Circadian rhythms in the vegetative state

T. A. Bekinschtein*, D. A. Golombek, S. H. Simonetta, M. R. Coleman, F. F. Manes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To evaluate whether vegetative state patients maintain circadian rhythms. Research design: An observational study of five single cases. Methods and procedures: Five chronic vegetative state patients underwent clinical and neurological evaluations and 2-week continuous temperature measurements. Main outcomes and results: The two patients with traumatic brain injury showed well-formed circadian temperature rhythms and had more reflexive behaviours and relatively low cortical and sub-cortical atrophy, whereas the three patients from anoxic-hypoxic origin demonstrated no cycles or rhythmic behaviour. Conclusions: The presence of periods of wakefulness does not imply preserved sleep-wake cycling capacity, nor preserved circadian rhythms and it should not be taken as a distinguishing feature for the definition of the vegetative state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-919
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Body temperature
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Guidelines
  • Vegetative state

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