In science fiction like prediction made by one of Britain’s top neuroscientist, it could be that people, who are in coma or a persistent vegetative state due to extensive brain damage, may soon be able to talk and even steer a wheel chair.
Dr Adrian Owen at Cambridge University has been able to demonstrate some startling findings – people who show no outward awareness have been able to understand what others are saying and even answer questions!
So the hope now is that further progress in this direction will be able to be made; that these patients will be able to communicate with the help of a vocal synthesizer and even be mobile by using a mechanized wheelchair.
Using MRI brain scanning, Dr Owen was able to elicit simple ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ responses to questions that were put to patients. He and his team have got similar response using an Electroencephalography (EEG) machine that monitors the brain’s electrical activity.
Does this then mean that people who are in a vegetative state will all soon be seen to communicate with the world rather like Stephen Hawking? Dr. Owen thinks so – he believes that workable devices costing about 30 thousand pounds may be available in a decade or so.