Page last updated at 22:00 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Scientist on 'brain scan breakthrough'

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Scientists have discovered a way to communicate with some patients thought to have been in a vegetative state.

Using a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging they scanned the brains of 23 patients and detected signs of awareness in four.

One of them, a 29-year-old man with a serious brain injury, was able to answer simple 'yes' and 'no' questions, using thought alone.

The study was conducted by experts at the Medical Research Council, the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre in Cambridge and the University of Liege in Belgium.

Dr Adrian Owen, co-author of the research, says the discovery could change the way such patients are treated.

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