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For more than a decade, Scott Routley remained in what doctors considered a vegetative state, awake but unable to move a muscle and seemingly unaware of life around him after the car crash that severely damaged his brain.
Then this spring a British neuroscientist conducted a remarkable experiment during which he says he was able to communicate with the London, Ont., resident, asking if Mr. Routley was feeling any pain. The answer, conveyed through brain activity detected on sophisticated MRI scans, was a reassuring “No.”
The just-revealed research, touted as a world first, not only shocked the patient’s long-time neurologist — who assumed his patient’s mind was all but blank — but could further alter scientists’ understanding of people likened, even by medicine, to vegetables.
The latest advance by Dr. Adrian Owen opens the door to numerous possibilities, from stimulating seemingly vegetative patients with talking books, to asking…
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