Search for Consciousness
What if you were completely conscious but couldn’t move or speak? Neuroscientist Adrian Owen and his team have been using brain-imaging techniques to determine levels of consciousness in vegetative patients.
By giving simple commands and then measuring brain activity, Owen has learned some patients are completely aware despite being entirely unable to communicate or move their limbs.
Owen’s pioneering research shows that some patients who were previously thought to be completely unconscious are in fact aware of both themselves and their surroundings.
It also shows that much-maligned brain scanning technology can be used not only to aid diagnosis by detecting hidden signs of consciousness in vegetative patients, but also, in some cases, to enable them to communicate.