On the Verge of a Breakthrough to Communicate With Patients in Coma

by Savitha C Muppala on  June 20, 2008 at 6:39 PM Research News   - G J E 4
 On the Verge of a Breakthrough to Communicate With Patients in Coma
An insight by a British scientist has suggested a new way to communicate with people in coma.

The Organization for Human Brain Mapping Conference witnessed Martin Monti of the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Science Unit in Cambridge explaining his recent work which could help communicate with people who are in a vegetative state.

A study conducted in 2006 pertaining to a woman in coma for 6 months had intrigued Martin. The scans showed that the woman played imaginary tennis and was even able to respond to commands. This led Monti to believe that reading brain scans of coma patients may help understand the way to communicate with them.

Monti and his colleagues studied the brain activity of 16 healthy volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. During the study, subjects were asked to imagine they were playing tennis; they were also asked to steer their way into a familiar street in imagination. The two activities suggested to the participants, as part of the study, was capable of energizing different areas in the brain which the FMRI could pick up.

"We were looking at the scan in real time as the participant was imagining their response and we were seeing in real time the different parts of the brain getting active or inactive," he said.

According to Monti, the study holds great promise, portraying a 100% success rate in receiving an accurate answer and with this the hope of helping comatose patients communicate with their dear ones may soon be a reality.

Source: Medindia

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