By Christopher Wanjek, Columnist | August 14, 2013 02:00pm ET
A new technique that can determine a person's level of consciousness could benefit patients who have suffered brain damage. These patients range from those who are fully aware but are unable to respond — known as "locked-in syndrome" — to those in a vegetative state, oblivious to the world.
The technique, which entails sending a magnetic pulse across the brain and measuring the brain's response to it, has the potential to measure consciousness even when the patient cannot reply to other stimuli, such as light, sound or hand squeezing.
The scientists involved in the development of this technique caution that it shouldn't be used to determine whether to "pull the plug" on someone in a vegetative state. Rather, they said, the technique could be used to monitor a patient's day-to-day recovery following a brain injury, and to determine whether the patient is thinking or feeling anything.
Read more at Live Science