A team in Cambridge have discovered that a patient in a vegetative state can communicate through her thoughts. Researchers at the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and in Academic Neurosurgery in Cambridge, in collaboration with colleagues in Liege, have for the first time discovered a way to show preserved conscious awareness in a patient who has been diagnosed as vegetative.
A year ago, the woman, who is 23, sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in a road traffic accident. She is physically unresponsive and fulfils all the criteria for a diagnosis of vegetative state according to international guidelines.
Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner at the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Cambridge, her brain activity was mapped while the patient was asked to imagine playing tennis or moving around her home. The scientists found she was able to do this, activating different areas of her brain in the same way as healthy volunteers.Back