End of life > Unclassified
Playing tennis in your head
The case which has clearly contributed the most to broadcasting the issue of people in a persistent vegetative state is the one of Terri Schiavo. In medical history, persistent vegetative state (PVS) is relatively recent (start of the 70s). The technical developments in intensive care made during the 60s have in effect allowed patients, showing a serious deterioration of brain functioning, to survive.
Most recently, two teams - one directed by the neuropsychologist Adrian Owen (University of Cambridge), the other by Steven Laureys, neurologist (Centre de Recherches du Cyclotron, University of Liege) - established that the brain activity of a patient in a permanent vegetative state (a 23 year old English female) indicated that she was conscious of herself and of her surroundings. The experiment consisted of giving oral commands to the young lady whilst a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine measured her brain activity. The scientists asked he...