Monday, September 11, 2006

The 'Moral Chaos' of the Twilight Zone, continued

Earlier, we had posted about how new neurotechnologies might change the way we look at MCS or PVS patients -- just a few days ago, Rob Stein of the Washington Post reported about a young woman was deep in a "vegetative state" -- completely unresponsive and unaware of her surroundings after a traumatic brain injury a little more than a year ago. But then a team of scientists in the UK decided to do an unprecedented experiment, employing functional MRI technology to try to peer behind the veil of her brain injury for any signs of conscious awareness.

What they found was surprising:

The researchers put the woman in a scanner that detects brain activity and told her that in a few minutes they would say the word "tennis," signaling her to imagine she was serving, volleying and chasing down balls. When they did, the neurologists were shocked to see her brain "light up" exactly as an uninjured person's would. It happened again and again. And the doctors got the same result when they repeatedly cued her to picture herself wandering, room to room, through her own home.

To read on, click here.

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