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from the peeking-at-consciousness dept.
There are very few situations that could be worse -- someone you love has gone into a coma and you don't know if they're still in there somewhere and may recover some day, or if they're out for the count. Do you pull the plug? Do you hold on to hope? What if somebody is in there? This NYT article (FRR) tells the story of one patient, one family and the research of Nicholas Schiff and Joy Hirsch who use an MRI to look inside the head of a coma patient.
As the tape of his sister's voice played, several distinct clusters of neurons in Rios's brain had fired in a manner virtually identical to that of a healthy subject. Some clusters that became active were those known to help process spoken language, others to recall memories. Was Rios recognizing his sister's voice, remembering her? "You couldn't tell the difference between these parts of his brain and the brain of one of my graduate students," says Hirsch.
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