Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Researchers found mental activity in response to verbal commands even in some “completely unresponsive” patients:
This work is relevant to the question of the relationship between the mind and the brain. It is another piece of evidence in a long line of evidence that some aspects of mental activity, most notably abstract thought, are to a significant degree dissociated from the material function of the brain.
It also highlights a significant limitation we face in evaluating the capacity for abstract thought in people who have severe brain damage: severe brain damage causes physical immobility and severely compromises behavioral responses. That makes the assessment of the capacity for abstract thought very difficult. How can we know if somebody who has severe brain damage and is in a deep coma can understand what we are saying if the brain damage prevents the patient from expressing thoughts by physical movement?
This study is consistent with the work of Wilder Penfield, who showed that higher-level abstract thought did not seem to arise from the brain in a material way.Michael Egnor, “New edviencethat some comatose people really do understand” at Mind Matters News
Also by Michael Egnor: Science Points To An Immaterial Mind. If one did not start with a materialist bias, materialism would not be invoked as an explanation for a whole range of experiments in neuroscience
Can buzzwords about “neural networks” save materialist neuroscience? No. Experiments that support an immaterial consciousness often involve split or massively damaged neural networks
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