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15 november 2012

Scientists use brain scan to communicate with Canadian in ‘vegetative state’

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Courtesy CBC
Scott Routley, 39, had no apparent sign of awareness, but was able to communicate with doctors.

A man who suffered a severe brain injury 12 years ago and had no apparent sign of awareness was able to communicate with researchers in London, Ont., through a specialized brain scanner.

Scott Routley, 39 was able to provide answers to simple questions while having his brain activity scanned in a functional MRI. The scanner measures the real-time activity of the brain by tracking the flow of oxygen-rich blood.

Dr. Adrian Owen of the Centre for Brain and Mind at Western University in London, Ont., said they are dealing with patients who are classified as being in a vegetative state who are awake, but seem unaware of who they are or what's around them.

While the field of consciousness is a evolving rapidly, many ethical and medical questions have to be examined.

Anna Maria Tremont, host of CBC’s The Current, talked to Dr. Adrian Owen. You can listen to the interview here: http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/The+Current/Full+Episodes/2012/ID/2304821727


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