We describe a unique patient who experienced a progressive autoimmune coma from age 14 to 17. The patient awoke after treatment with immunosuppressant medication. Although alertness, verbalization, and mobilization markedly improved, the patient reported persistent cognitive difficulties. Neuropsychological assessment from age 21 showed impairments in selective attention, distractibility, and memory. Conversely, higher-order executive functions were preserved. Electrophysiological analysis also identified abnormal neural signatures of selective attention. Eighteen months after the neuropsychological assessment, voxel-based morphometry revealed reduced white matter in the medulla compared to controls. The findings are discussed in terms of the impact of brainstem encephalopathy on cognitive mechanisms.
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