Activity Detected in Ariel Sharon's Brain

Former Israeli PM has been in coma 7 years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2013 12:27 AM CST
Sharon, 84, was in office and was expected to win another term when the stroke hit.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

(Newser) – After seven years in a coma, Ariel Sharon's brain is showing signs of life—and he might even know the Israeli election results. A brain scan of the former prime minister, who has been in a vegetative state since suffering a massive stroke in early 2006, found that his brain responded to external stimuli, with increased activity when the 84-year-old was shown pictures of his family and heard his son's voice, the New York Times reports.

"We were surprised that there was activity in the proper parts of the brain," a neuroscientist who treated Sharon says. "It raises the chances that he hears and understands, but we cannot be sure. The test did not prove that." Doctors described the results as "encouraging," though the responses don't mean that Sharon is likely to regain full consciousness, the BBC reports. There is, however, "a small chance that he is conscious but has no way of expressing it," the neuroscientist says. (Read more vegetative state stories.)

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