Neuroscientists in Canada have discovered a way to communicate with patients in vegetative states. In a documentary, set to air Tuesday on the British Broadcasting Corporation network, a team of scientists analyse the brain activity of several vegetative patients.
One patient, Scott Routley, suffered a severe brain injury when he was in a car accident, 12 years ago. The head scientist, Neuroscientist Dr. Adrian Owen, looked at Routley’s brain scans as he asked two questions. If Routley was in pain, he was asked to think about walking around his house. If he was not in pain, he was asked to imagine himself playing tennis. These two thoughts use different parts of the brain.
Using an fMRI (a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine), the team watched as Routley thought himself playing tennis. It was the first time he was able to communicate with the outside world since his accident.
Owen explained just how revolutionary this discovery is. He said it was a landmark moment and it can lead to better treatment for vegetative patients. Dr. Adrian Owen practices at the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario.
The amazing results of this testing has sensitive effects. If Routley was able to think an answer to the question, is he conscious to his vegetative condition?
Source: National Post