It's been a subject of long debate. Does consciousness exist outside the brain?
With accounts of Near death experiences as detailed in Dr. Alexander's book, "Proof of Heaven" and the best selling "Heaven is For Real" along comes a couple of articles I wanted to mention. One is this amazing story of a man in a vegetative state for the past 12 years, and a British scientist, Dr. Owen, who has been studying this research for years, has shown that he could communicate with the consciousness of the man in the vegetative state by using an MRI machine.
It's a simple experiment, but it's results are quite profound. A recent breakthrough on communicating with a patient in a vegetative state has the medical world reeling - and patients' families thrilled.
from The examiner.com: "According to an article in the Toronto Star, on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, Scott Routley, 39, a victim of a car accident which resulted in his vegetative state 12 years ago, is letting his brain do the talking for him say leading scientists at the University of Western Ontario’s Brain and Mind Institute. Scientists are using an MRI to connect to his brain and can essentially "see" what he is thinking when they ask him questions.
This breakthrough work on brain activity has allowed him to answer questions posed by scientists - for example, they have learned he is not in pain. “It became very clear that Scott had some awareness and he could respond in the scanner to the task we asked him to do while he was in there,” British neuroscientist professor Adrian Owen, who leads the research team, told the Toronto Star Tuesday.
|British scientist Adrian Owen|
“What we have done here for the very first time is ask a patient a question that is actually relevant to their clinical care. “Asking somebody whether they are in pain in tremendously important, because of course if the answer had been yes, we could do something,” he said in the Star article. It's hoped that research of this kind will lead to routine communications with at least one in five patients in this state. “That’s where we are trying to get to. We are trying to create what’s called a brain computer interface … some form of a machine that could allow somebody like Scott to routinely communicate with the outside word . . . We would like to give these patients a voice to enable them to actually communicate their wishes and needs,” he told the Star.
“We put him in an MRI scanner and while he is in the scanner we ask him to imagine doing certain things in his mind . . . for example, we ask him to imagine using his arms. Scott is unable to use his arms in reality but it turns out he is perfectly able to imagine moving his arms. And we can pick that up on the scanner and we can tell he’s doing what we ask him to do,” Owen said in the Star article.
However, for day to day communications, an MRI is much too costly, he said. Rather, it's possible an EEG machine, which costs approximately $75,000, could be hooked up to the patient's bedside for this purpose. The EEG uses scalp electrodes to measure response from the brain. Owen said with Scott, they ask him to imagine something, and researchers can see a certain area of the brain light up. When they ask him to stop the imagining, the light goes out. In this way, they were able to ascertain, twice, that he was not in any pain. “It is an extremely powerful technique for trying to understand a lot more about what it’s like to be in this condition,” Owen said, in the article."
This clip from ABC news: