'Thought reading' brings hope for vegetative state patients
2010 02 09
Doctors have managed to read the thoughts of a car crash victim diagnosed to be in a vegetative condition, using brain scanning techniques that could mark a breakthrough for thousands of patients.
A 22-year-old man who had been considered to be in a vegetative state since an automobile accident five years ago managed to answer "yes" and "no" to a team of doctors using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to scan his brain.
Patients in a vegetative state are awake, not in a coma, but have no awareness due to severe brain damage.
The research team from Britain and Belgium, whose findings were first published in the online version of the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, believe the technique could help doctors avoid making false diagnoses.
By helping doctors accurately ascertain whether a patient is mentally responsive, the technique "will change patient care, improve our diagnostics and avoid useless treatment," Belgian neuropsychologist Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse told AFP.
Graphic on a research breakthrough that may give a voice to people presumed to be in a vegetative state. A man who had been presumed to be in a vegetative state for five years, can communicate yes and no via his thought patterns, according to a study by British and Belgian researchers. Image: AFP
The car crash victim had not responded to any external stimuli, leading others to conclude he was in a vegetative state. When the British-Belgian team examined him, they found small signs of consciousness.
"But we couldn't communicate with him," Vanhaudenhuyse said.
The team had already examined a number of healthy people using fMRI, viewing which parts of their brains reacted when asked to respond to simple "yes" or "no" questions by imagining playing tennis or walking around a room.
They then placed the patient into an MRI. "We asked him the same things, to imagine he was playing tennis to respond to questions. And he succeeded," said Vanhaudenhuyse.
"That confirms he is not in a vegetative state."
The researchers' success has not revolutionised the life of the young man, although he has now returned home and receives better adapted care, including therapy that might help improve his capacity to communicate.
But they are aware of the implications of better diagnostic techniques -- both to stop administering useless treatment and giving false hopes to family members.
"We should now sit down around the table with the medical community, all the disciplines together, and legal experts, and settle the ethical implications of this research," said Professor Steven Laureys, who led the study in Belgium.
Vanhaudenhuyse noted that "we are not there to give definitive answers on when a patient should be euthanised or not... Our work allows avoiding errors, and taking well-founded decisions."
She was also concerned the technique would give false hopes to families.
"What we don't want to say is that all patients diagnosed as being in vegetative states can communicate," she said.
Of 54 patients with problems of consciousness they tested, only five displayed brain activity when asked questions, and only the 22-year-old car crash victim was able to "communicate."
But "we've known for a long time that with unconscious patients that the absence of proof is not proof of absence," said Vanhaudenhuyse.
Article from: YahooNews.ca
Video from: YouTube.com
Aaron Franz - TransAlchemy, Save the Humans!
Aaron Franz - The Age of Transitions
Brent Jessop - Knowledge Driven Revolution: The Big Picture
Brent Jessop - Club of Rome, Climate, UNESCO & Eugenics
Kevin Warwick - "I, Cyborg": Implants, RFID, Microchips & Cybernetics
Kevin Warwick - Artificial Intelligence & The Rise of the Machines in 2020
Michael Tsarion - The Post Human World
Honda Develops Brain-Machine Interface Technology (Video)
Homeland Security Embarks on Big Brother Programs to Read Our Minds and Emotions
"me.exe": Mind Hacking, the Next Tech Frontier
Psychic computer that can read people's minds developed
Humans 2.0: Replacing the Mind and Body
Japan Unveils Mind Control Robot (Video)
Mind-Reading Device Sends Twitter Messages
Mind Control, Electronic Harassment and Voice to Skull Technology
Scientists may soon be able to erase fear and trauma from your mind
A computer that can 'read' your mind
Man controlled robotic hand with thoughts
The 'telepathy' chip, turn on the TV using the power of thought
Locked-In Syndrome - Wikipedia
Vegetative state patients can respond to questions
Latest News from our Front Page
A Look at Theories About Elongated Skulls in Ancient Peru, Europe, Egypt
2014 07 31
Elongated skulls have been found in ancient burial grounds around the world. Many are the result of a practice of intentionally deforming the skull with binding applied during the early years of a child’s life. Some may be explained by natural deformity. Yet enough mystery is left in relation to some of the skulls for various theories to arise.
Could the ...
EU on high alert as Germany accepts Ebola patients
2014 07 30
A German hospital has agreed to treat Ebola patients amid widespread fears of a possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Europe. Over 670 people have already been killed by the disease in West Africa with doctors struggling to control the epidemic.
A German hospital in Hamburg agreed to accept patients following a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), Deutsche ...
Bolivia declares Israel terrorist regime
2014 07 30
Bolivia has declared Israel a “terrorist state” and revoked a visa exemption agreement with Tel Aviv in protest at the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The move "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," President Evo Morales said during talks with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba ...
Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches
2014 07 30
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?
A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.
Armed with just a torch and a ...
More Gigantic Holes Appear in Siberia’s ’End of the World’
2014 07 30
Is it the end of the world in Siberia’s ’End of the World’?
Scientists suspect not, but they’re still investigating the strange and alarming holes that are swallowing up the Siberian north.
This week two new holes have been discovered, and with similar characteristics as the first reported hole: a very deep shaft with smooth sides, debris surrounding the rim, and water ...
|More News » |