being are not then equal to full moral status.

being a subject of non-momentary interests is sufficient, (5) that having a mental life that involves an adequate amount of continuity, and connectedness via memory, is sufficient, and (6) that simple consciousness is sufficient” (Kuhse and Singer). In the case of covert consciousness in VS patients, simple consciousness may be present, and therefore they may be considered a person with equal moral rights to a healthy patient. However, ascribing consciousness to a specific neural activation pattern may be an incorrect interpretation of awareness as it is known that most high order functions are distributed throughout the brain (Harrington 2010).Thus, a VS patient no longer has the same moral status as a healthy individual and cannot adequately choose withdrawal or continuation of life (Fisher and Appelbaum 2010).Levy and Savulescu (2009) argue that even though VS patients may have simple consciousness, they do not experience phenomenal consciousness such as pain perception, the ability to draw on memories ,and formulate preferences about now and the future. The consciousness they experience therefore does not have intrinsic moral value, and VS patients are not then equal to full moral status. This fact would imply they should not be afforded the same moral values as a healthy person such as the right to autonomy in making decisions regarding the end of life wishes. However, if patients can communicate with simple yes and no answers, they may be able to demonstrate aspects of consciousness experience such as the feeling of pain or relief. If patients can express the experience of pain, it is evident that they would seek to relieve this pain and thus have preferences about the current life they live (Kuhse and Singer).The use of functional neuroimaging to interpret the wants and needs of VS patients regarding the end of life wishes needs to be cautiously understood. ¬†Although the research is preliminary and there remains much debate surrounding the topic, it is clear that through this analysis, we may observe that these patients are still able to hear, feel, understand, and respond. Neuroimaging provides a method of communication to a population of patients that are often forgotten by the medical and healthy community (Fins 2015). Implementation of neuroimaging in VS patients to communicate end of life wishes may not be feasible as of now, but it does highlight the need for more precise definitions of consciousness and how this relates to personhood to make more informed decisions regarding end-of-life care. As neuroimaging technology continues to advance, the ability to assess awareness will improve leading to better diagnosis and overall treatment in patients with DoC. Moreover, the findings from studies examining consciousness through the use of functional MRI can aid in further development of communication methods through this approach. This may ultimately affect the development of the technology itself which may eventually help patients, families, and physicians to make better end-of-life decisions.