As someone who wants to study the human consciousness I found this very interesting.
Scott Routley was a “vegetable”. A car accident seriously injured both sides of his brain, and for 12 years, he was completely unresponsive.
Unable to speak or track people with his eyes, it seemed that Routley was unaware of his surroundings, and doctors assumed he was lost in limbo. They were wrong.
In 2012, Professor Adrian Owen decided to run tests on comatose patients like Scott Routley. Curious if some “vegetables” were actually conscious, Owen put Routley in an fMRI and told him to imagine walking through his home. Suddenly, the brain scan showed activity. Routley not only heard Owen, he was responding.
Next, the two worked out a code. Owen asked a series of “yes or no” questions, and if the answer was “yes,” Routley thought about walking around his house. If the answer was “no,” Routley thought about playing tennis.
These different actions showed activity different parts of the brain. Owen started off with easy questions like, “Is the sky blue?” However, they changed medical science when Owen asked, “Are you in pain?” and Routley answered, “No.” It was the first time a comatose patient with serious brain damage had let doctors know about his condition.
While Scott Routley is still trapped in his body, he finally has a way to reach out to the people around him. This finding has huge implications.