Study Finds Vegetative Patient “Not Just Aware, but Paying Attention”

A recent study published in the journal Neuroimage: Clinical has found some patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) are aware of the world around them — and some are “not just aware, but paying attention.”

Scientists at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and the University of Cambridge published their research last month. In the study, researchers examined 21 PVS patients, asking the patients to listen and mentally respond to a series of words. Scientists used electroencephalography to measure electrical activity in the brain, and compared brain activity in the patients with brain activity in healthy volunteers who were asked the same questions.

Researchers at Cambridge write,

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Eric Metaxas on “Producing” Children from Skin Cells

[audio:http://www.breakpoint.org/images/content/breakpoint/audio/2013/100713_BP.mp3]

Nearly a year ago scientists in Japan developed a process by which mice offspring were “produced” in a lab using little more than skin cells obtained from the mice.

The discovery has many wondering if it is possible for scientists to “produce” biological children for human beings by a similar process, but it also carries troubling implications for bioethics.

Eric Metaxas comments on the ethical questions this discovery raises,

“Well, I think C. S. Lewis would have responded with another question: ‘Is there anything that should be forbidden?’ That’s precisely the challenge he issued in his famous essay, ‘The Abolition of Man,’ and to which academics of his day had no answer….As part of mankind’s conquest of nature, Lewis argued, we’ve conquered our own belief in moral absolutes. After all, the materialist would say, such beliefs are also part of nature. They’ve evolved to help us survive. But now that they’ve outlived their usefulness, we’re free to rise above them. The problem, as Lewis pointed out, is that we have no higher level to which we can rise. When we give up saying, ‘I ought,’ the only thing we can still say is, ‘I want.'”

You can read a full transcript of Metaxas’ comments at BreakPoint.