Is Anybody Home?

I am continuously learning about how amazing the intangible spark that is human awareness is. I came across this article while further looking into the phenomenon that is our consciousness.

It was written by Robert Burton about fifteen months ago. Check it out and see for yourself that consciousness exists outside of the physical world and actually creates worlds in it of itself.

"Sept. 25, 2007 | In a recent article in the Archives of Neurology, a team of British and Belgian neuroscientists describe a clinically unconscious accident victim who can, on command, imagine herself playing tennis and walking around her house. By showing that her functional brain imaging studies (fMRI) are indistinguishable from those of healthy volunteers performing the same mental tasks, the researchers claim that the young woman's fMRI "confirmed beyond any doubt that she was consciously aware of herself and her surroundings, and was willfully following instructions given to her, despite her diagnosis of a vegetative state."

Their extraordinary conclusions are beyond provocative; they raise profound questions about the very notion of consciousness. What's more, they could throw thousands of families and doctors into utter turmoil. As with the Terri Schiavo controversy, patient advocacy groups, self-serving lawyers and politicians with personal agendas could use the study's stamp of certainty as a given.

Yet the study's conclusions are not beyond a doubt. There are plenty of questions about whether this young woman is conscious and capable of choice.

Let's briefly look at the study. In mid-2005, a 23-year-old woman sustained massive head injuries in an auto accident. Following multiple brain surgeries and five months of rehabilitation attempts, she remained unresponsive. According to her treating physicians, she could open her eyes but could not respond to any commands; she could not voluntarily look in the direction of a voice; there was no evidence of orientation or emotional response. They determined that she was in a permanent vegetative state -- a neurological categorization of patients who emerge from coma, appear to be awake, but show no signs of awareness of self or environment.

Before the recent advances in functional brain imaging, most neurologists, based upon their bedside observations and brain wave studies, would have agreed that the woman, though "awake," was extremely unlikely to have a significant private mental life -- either in terms of personal awareness or willful mental activity. (This failure to differentiate between awake and aware was a major feature of the Schiavo affair.) But new tools bring new opportunities; her doctors wondered if the fMRI could provide additional understanding of the clinically unresponsive brain. What if the fMRI could demonstrate residual consciousness and self-awareness, perhaps even the ability to respond to commands?

Their proposed study was quite simple. While inside an fMRI scanner, the unresponsive woman was asked by the researchers to perform three mental tests: relax, imagine playing tennis, and imagine walking around the various rooms in her home. The tasks were chosen because of their ability to activate different areas of the brain. Imagining playing tennis would light up the supplementary motor area, a region involved in imagining as well as performing coordinated movements. In contrast, imagining moving from room to room in a house activated those regions, such as the posterior parietal lobe, that contribute to imaginary or real spatial navigation.

At first glance, the results are startling. The patient was able to activate the same general brain regions as conscious volunteers serving as controls in the test; according to the authors, the images were statistically indistinguishable."

To read the rest of the article, see the original article, The light's on, but is anybody home?

To delve deeper into this and similar mind boggling topics, stay tuned!


*** said...

If I am interpreting this correctly, this is disturbing from the context of our physical bodies being kept alive by technology - whereby 'trapping' our essence of being in a living tomb. At least so it would seem.

Until science figures out how to reconnect 'consciousness' or dare I say, 'spirit' to physicality, perhaps we should all be certain to have our 'living will' in order. I know I do...

C. Om said...

I'm not sure science will ever figure out how to "reconnect 'spirit' to physicality". I do, however, see how being in this state would not necessarily be a prison sentence. If a person had to be tied to a physical body that did not function, the true Self with in can still manifest ways for that incarnation to be useful.

Right now this is hypothetical, but I some how feel the truth in this. A person in this condition would be able to delve into astral projection and remote viewing. It may be a period of self discovery that most people do not get a chance to experience.

I see even tragic events in the light of everything happening for a purpose and the greater good. I was also intrigued by this article because it shows the resiliency of consciousness. It also somewhat illustrates that the consciousness/spirit is not of the physical world but still shapes and interacts with it.


*** said...

I understand your perspective and cannot disagree, because, of course, no one can know what this really means.

We can only relate to what we encounter by relating from a place that has already been our experience. So each of us will reach different, albeit, speculative conclusions.

Personally, I related this to what I experience on occasion that is quite terrifying, really. Upon awakening, I cannot move my body. I am fully cognizant of being 'awake', but I feel the need to lunge my body to engage with it and move. Not pleasant, as you might imagine. Very panicky feeling... I've not yet been able to resist panic to explore this state more fully.

Interesting, thought provoking, post and I thank you...