Intelligent Design Mind

Michael Egnor: Can loved ones in a coma hear us?

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Modern brain imaging studies show that very often they can. And, with help from new technology, they can answer us too. Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor explains:

There are ways of conversing with people in deep coma where you can, for example, look at the activation state representing Yes and the activation state representing No and you can ask them questions. You know, “Are you lonely?” “Do you wish your mother were here?” “Would you like something to eat?”, stuff like that, and they can answer you, with these brain states. In addition, some people can do mathematics in a coma. You can ask them “Is the square root of 25, 6?” and they do a No. And “Is it 5?” and they do a Yes. So there can be very high levels—not in all patients that we have found—but in many patients, forty percent, at least—of mental function in profoundly damaged brains. To the point wherre the medical profession has actually added a category to this list of ways you can be in a coma, and this is called minimally conscious state. So patients who have evidence of intellectual functioning in deep coma are called “minimally conscious,” although, frankly, they’re not really minimally conscious, they’re quite conscious.

Mind Matters News

Pioneering research using brain imaging (fMRI) over the last fifteen years has shown that, even in deep coma, people can hear, understand, and respond. It’s no longer just anecdotes from caregivers. The controversial Terri Schiavo case might be decided very differently today.

Further reading on some of the unexpected (immaterial) ways our minds work:

If your brain were cut in half, would you still be one person? Yes, with minor disabilities. Roger Sperry’s split-brain research convinced him that the mind and free will are real .

and

Four researchers whose work sheds light on the reality of the mind The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple.

3 Replies to “Michael Egnor: Can loved ones in a coma hear us?

  1. 1
    jerry says:

    Years ago when my mother in law was still alive, she was sitting in a chair at the opposite end of the room in a hospital as the doctor discussed options for her. She couldn’t swallow and there was a provision against intravenous hydration in her advanced care directives. She had some form of dementia and had essentially been a vegetable for 3-4 years. Her face was expressionless and her eyes were closed as she appeared to be asleep.

    The doctor said she would probably pass away in the next 72 hours from dehydration since she couldn’t swallow. Four hours later she suddenly started to drink and eat certain foods. My guess is that she understood what the doctor was saying even from across a room in what we thought was a comatose state.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    We should never have considered evidence from relatives and caregivers to be “merely anecdotal”. They are ACTIVELY EXPERIMENTING AND OBSERVING the reactions of the patient. They are the real experts, the real scientists. Some of them may be pre-biased, but not all of them. They’re usually surprised, not confirmed, by the degree of awareness.

    This fits into the overall mechanistic assumption of most “scientists”, who consider all living things to be passive identical particles until they acquire tenure. After the magic potion of tenure, particles become living things with will power and thoughts.

  3. 3
    Truthfreedom says:

    ‘Love’ (according to materialism) is just ‘a bunch of chemicals’. So if today your brain has not secreted the ‘proper’ amount of ‘love-related-chemicals’ and you end up killing i. e. your parents, it is just that, a ‘problem’ of not ‘proper secretion’.
    Like being bald.
    Like sweating too much.
    Like having flatulence.

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