|Functional MRI Detects Residual Awareness in Vegetative Patients|
August 17, 2007 — In a follow-up to their earlier single case report, British and Belgian researchers have found several cases of patients in an apparently vegetative state who nevertheless show signs of brain activation on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), signaling cognitive function and conscious awareness.
With further research, the researchers are hopeful that detecting this type of covert awareness might make it possible to communicate with these patients or predict those who may recover from their vegetative state. However, the authors stress that they don't want to raise false hopes with this work.
"This is really at earliest days, and although we've shown that you can demonstrate conscious awareness in now several patients who are otherwise assumed to be vegetative, this is something that's extremely unlikely to apply to most cases of vegetative state, particularly those who have been in that situation for a long period of time," first author Adrian M. Owen, PhD, from the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, in Cambridge, United Kingdom, told Medscape. "As we know, the chances of recovery from vegetative state decreases dramatically over time."
Their updated work is published in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology.
August 20, 2007
I'll bet the fundagelicals will be drooling all over this (sub. req.), if they ever bother to learn how to read non-fiction: