Posted by: arisfil | March 14, 2008

Coma definition reconsidered ?


  The “Persistent Vegetative State” has been a topic of rigorous debates among neuroscientists. The arguments were formed using the hot issue of brain perception. Does the patient understand and interact (through cognitive tasks) with the environment ? This is a difficult question that demands  a lot of insight and scientific evidence in order to be answered.

The case of a 23 years old woman tries to give us another perspective that before the era of fMRI was unknown. This woman was a victim of severe traumatic brain injury that led her to a “Persistent Vegetative State”. Researchers at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and in Academic Neurosurgery in Cambridge, in collaboration with colleagues in Liege revealed something new to the scientific community. They were able to observe thoughts and congitive mind tasks in response to commands! This observation was demonstrated  with the implementation of fMRI. When this patient was told to imagine walking or playing tennis, the fMRI images correlated to brain regions that should be activated in healthy individuals carrying the same tasks! Furthermore these fMRI tests indicated that this person could recognize speech! The findings of this research were published in Science (Naccache L. PSYCHOLOGY: “Is she concious ?”. Science 8 September 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5792, pp. 1395 – 1396).


So coma and persistent vegetative state should be reconsidered ? How we define situations that our present knowledge and technological aspects sculpture in our scientific minds ? The implementation of fMRI has showed that the understanding of brain, perception and interaction with the environment can now be reformed. The understanding of our world through science is interpreted using an idea, an observation, an experiment and a verification but this interpretation has to do with the tools we use to approach the unseen. The evolution of technology may reveal unseen truths about brain…



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