Transcript: Adrian Owen: Searching for Consciousness | Jan 04, 2013

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a black suit, white shirt, and gingham tie. Behind him, a wall screen reads “The Agenda, with Steve Paikin.”

Steve says MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS.
A DIAGNOSIS GIVEN BY DOCTORS
FOR HASSAN RASOULI, A TORONTO
PATIENT WHO HAS BEEN
IN A COMA MORE THAN TWO YEARS.
THE COUNTRY SUPREME COURT IS
CURRENTLY HEARING ARGUMENTS
AND HOW IT RULES COULD BE
GROUND BREAKING FOR THE
MEDICAL SYSTEM AND END-OF-LIFE
CARE.
TO HELP US UNDERSTAND MORE
ABOUT VEGETATIVE STATES AND
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT
CONSCIOUSNESS.
HERE IS ADRIAN OWEN.
CANADA EXCELLENCE RESEARCH CHAIR
IN COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE AND
IMAGING AT WESTERN UNIVERSITY IN
LONDON, ONTARIO.
IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK IN
OUR STUDIO.

Adrian is in his fifties, with short graying hair and a beard. He wears a black suit with a black pin on his left lapel and a gray shirt.

He says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Steve says WEARING THAT PIN.
WHICH MEANS?
MY CANADA EXCELLENCE RESEARCH
CHAIR PIN.
HOW MANY IN CANADA HAVE THOSE?

Adrian says 19.
THEY ARE ABOUT TO AWARD
ANOTHER 10.
BUT IT'S 19 RIGHT NOW.

Steve says YOU ARE IN PRETTY
SELECT COMPANY.
LET'S START WITH THE RISOULI
CASE WHICH I JUST MENTIONED,
IT'S IN FRONT OF THE SUPREME
COURT. GIVE US THE BACKGROUND
INTO THAT BEFORE WE GO FURTHER.

A caption reads “Adrian Owen. Canada Excellence Research Chair. Western University.”

The caption changes to “Searching for Consciousness. From vegetable state to minimally conscious.”

Adrian says THIS PATIENT IS NOW THOUGHT
TO BE IN A MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS
STATE.
THAT'S A VERY BROAD CATEGORY
OF PATIENTS.
IT MEANS THERE IS SOME
EVIDENCE HE HAS RESIDUAL
COGNITIVE AWARENESS BUT NOT
ENOUGH TO COMMUNICATE ON A
REGULAR BASIS.
SO IT'S SOMEWHERE A LITTLE
BETTER IF YOU LIKE THAN THE
VEGETATIVE STATE BUT HE IS
STILL VERY SEVERELY IMPAIRED.

Steve says IS NOT MUCH BETTER.
HE LIFTED A THUMB, I GATHER.

Adrian says THAT'S RIGHT.
IT'S EXTREMELY SLIM DIFFERENCE
IN MANY CASES.
IT CAN BE JUST THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN A SINGLE MOVEMENT.

Steve says BUT THAT SUGGESTS
THERE'S SOME LIFE THERE.

Adrian says IT DOES, IT DOES.
BUT RESEARCH OVER THE LAST FEW
YEARS HAS SHOWN IT'S VERY
OFTEN THE CASE THAT THESE
PATIENTS ARE INCORRECTLY
DIAGNOSED IN THE SENSE THAT
THERE ARE RESIDUAL ABILITIES
THAT WE ARE JUST NOT ABLE TO
DETECT AT THE BEDSIDE.
MANY PATIENTS WE THOUGHT WERE
ENTIRELY VEGETATIVE TURN OUT
TO HAVE SOME LEVEL OF INTERNAL
AWARENESS.

Steve says THIS IS A CASE WHERE
THE FAMILY ACTING, AS THEY
SAY, IN HIS INTEREST, WANT TO
KEEP HIM “ALIVE.”
LYING THERE IN A HOSPITAL BED
AT SUNNYBROOK HOSPITAL,
TUBES COMING IN AND OUT AND SO
ON.
AND THE HOSPITAL DECIDED IN
ITS WISDOM DECIDED THEY CAN'T
DO ANYTHING ELSE FOR HIM,
THEY WANT TO TAKE THE TUBES
OUT AND LET NATURE TAKE IT'S
COURSE.
IS THE DISTINCTION YOU MADE,
MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS, VERSUS
VEGETATIVE STATE IS THAT
ENOUGH OF A DIFFERENCE TO SAY
TO THE FAMILY OK WE WILL DO IT
YOUR WAY?
IN THE VIEW OF MEDICINE?

Adrian says I'M THINKING IN GENERAL ONE
HAS TO REALLY LOOK AT EACH
CASE INDIVIDUALLY.
BECAUSE THESE PATIENTS ARE ALL
DIFFERENT.
THE NATURE OF THEIR INJURIES
IS DIFFERENT, WHAT THEY CAN
AND CAN'T DO IS DIFFERENT.
AND VERY OFTEN THERE ARE
THINGS WE CAN ONLY DISCOVER
USING TECHNIQUES THAT AREN'T
AVAILABLE TO GENERAL MEDICINE.
THAT'S WHERE RESEARCH COMES
IN.
I DON'T THINK YOU CAN ANSWER
IT AS SIMPLY AS SAYING
VEGETATIVE PATIENTS AND
MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS IN
ANOTHER.
IT'S A VERY FINE LINE BETWEEN
THE TWO.

Steve says FAIR ENOUGH.
BUT DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM HAVE
PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT WITH THE
RISOULI CASE?

Adrian says HE HAS BEEN IN ONE OF OUR
RESEARCH TRIALS BUT FOR
ETHICAL REASONS I CAN'T
DISCUSS THE RESULTS.

Steve says SCOTT ROUTLEY,
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT
CASE?

Adrian says OF COURSE, WE HAVE BEEN
WORKING VERY CLOSELY TOGETHER
TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND MORE
ABOUT SCOTT'S SITUATION.
IN FACT THE CASES ARE
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, I THINK
COMPARING THE TWO ILLUSTRATES
WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO TAKE
EACH CASE ON ITS OWN MERITS AS
IT WERE.
SCOTT'S WAS A TRAUMATIC BRAIN
INJURY.
HE HAD BEEN INVOLVED IN A
VEHICLE ACCIDENT 12 YEARS AGO.

Steve says UNLIKE RISOULI WHO PICKED
UP A VIRUS IN THE HOSPITAL.

The caption changes to “The Agenda App. Tvo.org/apps.”

Adrian says THERE'S A DIFFERENCE.
THE PROSPECTS OF IMPROVEMENT,
THE POSSIBILITY THAT WE MIGHT
DETECT RESIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS
IS BETTER IN TRAUMATIC BRAIN
INJURY THAN SO-CALLED
NON-TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY.
ALSO SCOTT HAS BEEN IN A
SITUATION FOR A VERY LONG
TIME.
THAT'S WHY OUR FINDINGS I
THINK WERE SO SURPRISING.
THE FACT THAT BRAIN IMAGING
WAS ABLE TO PICK UP CLEAR
EVIDENCE HE WAS CONSCIOUS AND
ABLE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS WE
PUT TO HIM.
IN OUR HANDS THAT'S OCCURRED
MUCH LESS COMMONLY THAN IN
PATIENTS WHO HAVE A
NON-TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY,
THIS IS MORE IN PATIENTS IN
VEHICLE ACCIDENTS OR BLOWS TO
THE HEAD.

The caption changes to “Searching for Consciousness. Science and the Law.”

Steve says I WILL USE A FOUR
LETTER F-WORD.
WE KNOW WHAT M.R.I.
MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING.
BUT YOU USE F.
FUNCTIONAL MAGNETIC RESONANCE
IMAGING TO COMMUNICATE WITH
THEM.
WHAT DOES THIS TECHNOLOGY
ALLOW YOU TO DO?

Adrian says IT'S A VERSION OF M.R.I.
MOST WILL BE FAMILIAR WITH.
FUNCTIONAL M.R.I. MEANS WE
LOOK AT THIS FLOW OF BLOOD
AROUND THE BRAIN, WE LOOK AT
HOW BLOOD IS DELIVERED TO
PARTS OF THE BRAIN.
IN THAT WAY WE ARE ABLE TO
UNDERSTAND A LITTLE MORE ABOUT
WHICH PARTS OF THE BRAIN ARE
FUNCTIONING.
AND WHICH MAY BE FUNCTIONING
ABNORMALLY.
TO GET PEOPLE TO RESPONSE TO
COMMANDS USING JUST THEIR
BRAIN.
USING THE F.M.R.I. MACHINE WE
ARE ABLE TO DETECT WHEN
SOMEBODY IS IMAGINING
SOMETHING THAT WE ASK THEM TO
IMAGINE.
AND THAT'S BECAUSE WE
HYPOTHESIZE THESE PATIENTS ARE
PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE OF
RESPONDING.
THEY ARE LOCKED INTO THEIR
BODIES BECAUSE THEY CAN'T
PHYSICALLY RESPOND BECAUSE
THEY CAN'T SQUEEZE A HAND WHEN
WE ASK THEM OR RAISE THEIR ARM
TO INDICATE THEY ARE AWARE.
WE ASK THEM TO IMAGINE AND WE
CAN DETECT WHETHER OR NOT THEY
ARE DOING IT,
THAT'S OUR MARKER OF
CONSCIOUSNESS.

Steve says YOU ARE TELLING THEM
TO IMAGINE PLAYING TENNIS.
WHY TENNIS?

Adrian says WELL, IT'S NOT THERE'S A
TENNIS PLAYING AREA OF THE
BRAIN.
WE ARE TRYING TO GET THEM TO
IMAGINE MAKING VIGOROUS ARM
MOVEMENTS.
SOMETHING THAT EVERYBODY
UNDERSTANDS.
YOU JUST KNOW TO THE BASIC
PRINCIPALS, MOVING YOUR ARM
AROUND AND HITTING A BALL.
THAT'S ENOUGH TO ACTIVATE THE
PRE MOTOR CORTEX.
INSTEAD OF SQUEEZING YOUR HAND
WE SAY IMAGINE PLAYING TENNIS
AND THIS AREA ACTIVATES.

Steve says HAVE YOU DONE THIS WITH
SCOTT?

Adrian says I HAVE.

Steve says AND WHAT HAPPENED?

Adrian says IT WAS TREMENDOUSLY
SUCCESSFUL.
SCOTTY IS A PATIENT WE HAD
BEEN UNABLE TO ELICIT
RESPONSES FROM HIM
SYSTEMATICALLY OVER MONTHS OF
REPEATED OBSERVATIONS BUT WHEN
WE PUT HIM IN THE SCANNER WE
ASKED HIM TO IMAGINE PLAYING
TENNIS,
IT ACTIVATED SIMILARLY TO
HEALTHY AWAKE INDIVIDUAL.

Steve says AND THEREFORE THAT
TOLD YOU WHAT?

Adrian says THAT HE CAN COMMAND FOLLOW.
THE CRITICAL CLINICAL MARKER
OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
WE ASKED HIM TO DO SOMETHING
AND HE COULD DO IT.
HE UNDERSTOOD THE INSTRUCTION
AND ABLE TO TURN THAT INTO AN
ACTION.
HE WAS ABLE TO ANSWER
QUESTIONS THAT WE ASKED HIM.

Steve says LIKE WHAT?

Adrian says WE BEGAN WITH SIMPLE THINGS
WE KNEW THE ANSWERS TO, SO WE
ASKED HIM IF HIS NAME WAS
SCOTT.
IMAGINE PLAYING TENNIS IF THE
ANSWER IS YES.
IMAGINE WALKING FROM ROOM TO
ROOM IN HIS HOUSE, THAT
ACTIVATES A DIFFERENT NETWORK.
IF YOU WANT TO SAY NO,
IMAGINE WALKING AROUND YOUR
HOUSE.
SAY YES, PLAY TENNIS.
HE TOLD US HIS NAME
SCOTT.
HIS NAME ISN'T MIKE.
THE YEAR IS 2012, THAT'S WHEN
WE SCANNED HIM.
IT'S NOT 1999 CLOSER TO THE
POINT OF HIS INJURY.
HE COULD ANSWER SIMPLE
QUESTIONS.
AT THAT POINT WE MOVE ONTO
QUESTIONS THAT WE ACTUALLY
COULDN'T VERIFY THE ANSWER IN
ANY OTHER WAY.
HE WAS ABLE TO TELL US SOME
THINGS ABOUT HIS SITUATION
THAT WE HAD NO OTHER WAY OF
KNOWING.

Steve says COULD HE TELL YOU WHETHER
HE WAS IN PAIN?

Adrian says THAT WAS THE FIRST QUESTION
WE ASKED HIM.
IT'S CLINICALLY EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT, THE ANSWER WAS NO.
HE REPORTED HE ISN'T IN ANY
PHYSICAL PAIN.

The caption changes to “Adrian Owen. Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in cognitive neuroscience and imaging, Western University. 20 years pioneering research in area of cognitive neuroscience. In 2006, published landmark discovery using functional neuroimaging to detect awareness in individuals classified as being in vegetative state. Co-developer of the website Cambridge Brain Sciences. Cambridge Brain Sciences provides free access to scientifically demonstrated assessments of cognitive function using a web-based platform.”

Steve says HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT JUST
BECAUSE A CERTAIN PART OF THE
BRAIN LIT UP THAT'S A YES OR A
NO?

Adrian says JUST IMAGINE IF ALL THAT
WAS WRONG WITH A PATIENT IS
THEY COULDN'T SPEAK.
WE SAID WELL SQUEEZE YOUR LEFT
HAND FOR A YES,
SQUEEZE YOUR RIGHT HAND FOR A
NO.
YOU WOULD ASK, ARE YOU IN PAIN
AND YOU GOT A RIGHT HAND
SQUEEZE.
YOU WOULD WANT TO REPEAT IT TO
MAKE SURE.
BUT IF SOMEONE SQUEEZED THE
RIGHT HAND TEN TIMES IN A ROW
TO SAY NO, I'M NOT IN PAIN YOU
WOULD START TO BELIEVE IT EVEN
THOUGH THE PERSON COULDN'T
SPEAK.
WE USE THE SAME PRINCIPLE BUT
WITH BRAIN IMAGING.
IMAGINE THIS TASK WHICH WOULD
ACTIVATE ONE PART OF THE
BRAIN.
WE REPEAT THE STUDY OVER AND
OVER AGAIN TO MAKE ABSOLUTELY
SURE THAT IT'S REPEATABLE AND
IT'S RELIABLE AND THE PATIENT
REALLY IS COMMUNICATING WITH
US.
THEY ARE DOING IT BY
SYSTEMATICALLY ACTIVATING
DIFFERENT AREAS OF THE BRAIN
RATHER THAN SQUEEZING THE
HANDS.

Steve says HOW MANY PATIENTS
HAVE YOU DONE IT WITH?

Adrian says MORE THAN 30 NOW IN THE
LAST FEW YEARS.

Steve says ALL AT WESTERN OR LONDON?

Adrian says 12 PATIENTS AT WESTERN.
SINCE I MOVED TO CANADA WE
TRIED THIS WITH 12 PATIENTS.
BUT WE ARE HAPPY TO TRY IT IN
MANY MORE.
IT'S REVEALING EXTREMELY
INTERESTING INFORMATION ABOUT
THIS POPULATION.

Steve says THIS IS FASCINATING
AND I'M SURE FROM YOUR
STANDPOINT EXCITING AS HELL TO
SEE THIS BUT LET ME ASK A
MUNDANE QUESTION.
HOW IS THIS RELEVANT TO YOUR
PATIENT'S CARE AND POTENTIAL
RECOVERY?

Adrian says THIS IS WHERE WE ARE
PUSHING THINGS NOW.
WE CAN START TO ASK
THERAPEUTICALLY RELEVANT
QUESTIONS.
WHEN I MET YOU LAST WE HAD
NEVER ASKED A PATIENT WHETHER
THEY WERE IN PAIN.
WE ONLY GOT AS FAR AS
ESTABLISHING THAT THEY ARE
CONSCIOUS AND TRYING TO SET UP
A SIMPLE LINE OF
COMMUNICATION.
WE ARE STARTING TO PROBE MUCH
MORE IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE
ARE YOU IN PAIN AND CAN ANY OF
THESE PATIENTS, IS THERE
INTERNAL SITUATION OR LEVEL
ABLE TO MAKE COMPLICATED
DECISIONS.
CAN THEY DECIDE WHAT TREATMENT
THEY WOULD LIKE TO TRY?
THERE IS NO TREATMENT FOR THE
VEGETATIVE STATE RIGHT NOW BUT
OF COURSE THERE ARE THINGS WE
CAN TRY TO IMPROVE THEIR
LIVES.
THE IMPORTANT THING I THINK IS
SOME CAN NOW CONTRIBUTE TO
THAT DECISION-MAKING PROCESS.
THEY CAN HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT
WHAT THEIR FUTURE MIGHT BE.

Steve says HOW ABOUT YOUR
FINDINGS IN TERMS OF RELEVANCE
TO THE FAMILIES?

Adrian says THAT'S IMPORTANT TOO.
THAT'S SOMETHING I'VE BEEN
EXPLORING VERY MUCH SINCE I
ARRIVED IN CANADA.
TRYING TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH
THE FAMILIES.
REALIZING THESE SITUATIONS
IMPACT UPON MANY PEOPLE OTHER
THAN THE PATIENT.
TYPICALLY PATIENTS' FAMILIES
ARE RELIEVED TO KNOW MORE
ABOUT THE SITUATION THAT THEIR
RELATIVE IS IN TO KNOW WHETHER
THERE IS RESIDUAL
CONSCIOUSNESS.
THEY WOULD LIKE TO KNOW
WHETHER THE PATIENT
UNDERSTANDS WHAT IS BEING
SAID.
ARE THEY AWARE OF THINGS THAT
HAVE HAPPENED SENSE THE
INJURY.
WE HAD A PATIENT ABLE TO
REPORT HE DID KNOW HIS SISTER
HAD A BABY SINCE HIS ACCIDENT
WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT THE
FAMILY DIDN'T KNOW BUT THEY
WERE RELIEVED, I BELIEVE, TO
KNOW HE WAS AWARE THAT HAD
OCCURRED.

Adrian says LET ME COME BACK TO THE
RISOULI CASE, ORIGINALLY FROM
IRAN?

Adrian says YES.

Steve says DO YOU KNOW IF HE SPEAKS
ENGLISH?

Adrian says I DO KNOW THAT HE HAS SOME
ENGLISH.
BUT THE TESTS THAT WERE
CONDUCTED WERE DONE IN FARCI.

Steve says THE CASE BEFORE THE
SUPREME COURT AND THE FAMILY'S
INTEREST AND HOSPITAL'S
INTEREST BEING QUITE POLAR
OPPOSITES AT THE MOMENT, DO
YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW THE
RESEARCH YOU ARE DOING ON MR.
RISOULI WILL FACTOR INTO THE
COURT CASE?

Adrian says I DON'T KNOW.
I WASN'T INVOLVED IN THE COURT
CASE.
WE SAW HIM AS PART OF OUR
RESEARCH PROGRAM.
IN MANY WAYS HE WAS VERY
TYPICAL OF THESE PATIENTS IN
THAT HE IS AN EXTREMELY
COMPLICATED CASE.
THIS IS BORN OUT IN THE MEDIA
REPORTS AND WHAT WE HAVE SEEN
OF THE INVESTIGATIONS HE HAS
HAD SO FAR,
SOMETIMES HE SEEMS TO HAVE
RESPONSES, SOMETIMES HE
DOESN'T HAVE RESPONSES.
THERE'S QUESTIONS ABOUT
EXACTLY WHAT HIS DIAGNOSIS IS,
WHETHER VEGETATIVE, OR WAS.
THIS ILLUSTRATES HOW DIFFICULT
THESE PATIENTS ARE.
SEVERE BRAIN INJURY PRODUCES
SOMETIMES A VERY COMPLICATED
PATTERN OF RESPONSES AND
SYMPTOMS THAT IS EXTREMELY
DIFFICULT TO UNRAVEL.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE A VIEW
HOW YOU THINK THE COURT SHOULD
RESOLVE THAT CASE?

Adrian says OBVIOUSLY I DO.

Steve says DO YOU WANT TO TELL
US?

Adrian says I THINK EVERYBODY'S
OPINIONS NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO
CONSIDERATION.
WE NEED A BALANCED VIEW HERE.
IT IS IMPORTANT WE HAVE THE
DIALOGUE.
I THINK THE PATIENTS PRIOR
WISHES NEED TO BE TAKEN
ACCOUNT OF.

Steve says DO YOU KNOW WHAT
THOSE WERE?

Adrian says I DON'T KNOW IN THIS
PARTICULAR CASE BUT MOST CASES
WE RELY ON THE FAMILY MEMBER
OF THE PERSON ACTING ON BEHALF
OF THE FAMILY TO INDICATE WHAT
THOSE WISHES WERE MOST LIKELY
TO HAVE BEEN BUT ALSO WE NEED
TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT MEDICAL
OPINION, THE LIKELIHOOD OF
RECOVERY.
EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT.
WE CAN'T HAVE ONE LAW THAT
APPLIES TO EVERYBODY BECAUSE
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A CASE
THAT DOESN'T FIT THE MODEL.

Steve says YOU REALLY
SKILLFULLY DODGED THE
QUESTION, DO YOU HAVE A VIEW
HOW THE CASE OUGHT TO BE
RESOLVED?

Adrian says IN THIS CASE I DON'T THINK
THAT'S A VIEW FOR ME,
IT'S SOMETHING THE COURTS NEED
TO DECIDE.

The caption changes to “Searching for Consciousness: Ethical Conundrum.”

Steve says FAIR ENOUGH.
LET ME GET INTO SOME OF THE
ETHICS.
COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE IN A
VEGETATIVE STATE OPENS UP
QUESTIONS AROUND ETHICS.

Adrian says ONE OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS
IS THAT WE UNDERSTAND EXACTLY
WHAT SITUATION EACH PATIENT IS
IN.
THAT'S A DIFFICULT ETHICAL
SITUATION.
KNOWING WHETHER A PATIENT HAS
NO RESIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS OR
THEY ARE AWARE.
OR COMPLETELY AWARE OF
EVERYTHING AROUND THEM,
WE REALLY NEED TO NAIL THAT
DOWN AS BEST WE CAN IN EACH
PATIENT.
THE RESEARCH INVOLVED WOULD
HAVE AN IMPACT.
I THINK WE COULD IMPROVE DIEG
DIAGNOSIS.
IMAGING FINDINGS ARE HELPING
US TO BE ABLE TO TELL WHICH
PATIENTS ARE LIKELY TO GO ONTO
HAVE SOME LEVEL OF RECOVERY
AND WHO ISN'T, AND I THINK
THAT WILL BE IMPORTANT FOR
DECIDING HOW WE SHOULD ASSIGN
RESOURCES AND HOW DECISIONS
ARE MADE ABOUT PARTICULAR
PATIENTS.

Steve says THAT WAS THE NEXT THING I
WAS GOING TO GET TO.
WE SPEND 48 BILLION DOLLARS ON HEALTH
CARE, BUT IT'S NEVER ENOUGH
AND YOU COULD PROBABLY SPEND
DOUBLE TOMORROW IF YOU WANTED
TO.
SO I GUESS PART OF THE
QUESTION AROUND ALL THIS
BECOMES IF WE ARE SPENDING
FINITE RESOURCES ON THIS, IF
AT THE MOMENT NOT AS MUCH
PAYBACK OR PAY OFF AS YOU
WOULD LIKE TO SEE, ARE WE
RISKING NOT FUNDING SOMETHING
ELSE BUT MAY HAVE BETTER PAY
OFF FOR US SOONER?
I DON'T KNOW, WHAT DO YOU
THINK?

Adrian says I THINK THAT'S LIKELY TO BE
THE CASE.
IT'S ALWAYS TRUE THERE ARE
FINITE RESOURCES.
I THINK ONE PROBLEM IN THIS
PARTICULAR AREA, PEOPLE OFTEN
GET VERY DISTRACTED BY
SO-CALLED MIRACLE CASES.
PATIENTS THAT RECOVER FROM
COMAS AFTER SEVERAL YEARS.
THESE SORTS OF THINGS.
WE HAVE TO BE SENSIBLE ABOUT
THIS.
WE HAVE TO DO THIS
PROBABILISTICALLY.
EVEN THOUGH OCCASIONALLY SOME
OF THESE PATIENTS MIGHT
RECOVER, I THINK WE HAVE TO
LOOK AT EVERY CASE AND LEARN
AS MUCH AS WE CAN ABOUT EVERY
CASE AND DECIDE WHETHER THERE
IS SUFFICIENT REASON TO DIRECT
RESOURCES AT EACH INDIVIDUAL
CASE BECAUSE IT'S NEVER GOING
TO BE POSSIBLE TO, WE WOULD
ALWAYS BE SPREADING TOO THINLY
IF WE APPLY THE SAME RULE
ABOUT EVERYBODY.

Steve says DO YOU WANT TO MAKE
THE CASE WHERE YOU THINK THIS
MONEY IS WELL SPENT ON THIS
PROJECT?

Adrian says ABSOLUTELY.
I THINK WE HAVE MADE
PHENOMENAL PROGRESS.
IDENTIFYING CONSCIOUS
PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT TO BE
VEGETATIVE, OR SOME PATIENTS.
IT'S NOT ALL PATIENTS.
I THINK IS A TREMENDOUSLY
IMPORTANT CLINICAL APPLICATION
FOR WHAT IS A RESEARCH
TECHNIQUE.
F.M.R.I.
BASIC SCIENCE COULD HAVE A
DIRECT IMPACT ON CLINICAL
EVALUATION, DIAGNOSIS AND
PROGNOSIS.
I DON'T THINK MANY PEOPLE ARE
ARGUING WE HAVE BEEN
SPECTACULARLY SUCCESSFUL IN
THAT RESPECT.

The caption changes to “Searching for Consciousness: theagenda.tvo.org.”

Steve says IN OUR LAST MINUTE
LET ME FINISH ON SOMETHING OUT
OF LEFT FIELD.
IF THIS F.M.R.I. COULD HELP
UNLOCK INFORMATION LOCKED
INSIDE SOMEBODY WHO CANNOT
COMMUNICATE ANY OTHER WAY
OTHER THAN BRAIN ACTIVITY.
COULD THE SAME TECHNOLOGY BE
USED TO READ THE TRUE THOUGHTS
OF AN OTHERWISE HEALTHY PERSON
AS A KIND OF SOPHISTICATED LIE
DETECTOR FOR EXAMPLE?

Adrian says THAT'S A REALLY INTERESTING
QUESTION.
CERTAINLY THE DIRECTION THAT
MANY PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO PUSH
THIS FIELD.
BUT I THINK IT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHERE
THE TECHNOLOGY IS.
RIGHT NOW I COULD PUT YOU IN
OUR SCANNER,
AND I COULD ASK YOU TO DO ONE
OF TWO THINGS,
PLAY TENNIS OR MOVE AROUND
YOUR HOUSE, VERY ACCURATELY I
THINK I COULD TELL WHICH OF
THOSE TWO THINGS YOU ARE
DOING, BUT THAT'S NOT THE SAME
AS YOU LYING IN THE SCANNER
DECIDING TO THINK ANYTHING AND
ME BEING ABLE TO DECODE THOSE
THOUGHTS.
THAT'S THE PROBLEM YOU HAVE
WITH THINGS LIKE LIE
DETECTION, THE PERSON COULD BE
HAVING RANDOM THOUGHTS IN THE
SCANNER AND DECODING, TRULY
MIND READING.
WE ARE REALLY STILL A LONG WAY
AWAY.

Steve says I CAN'T USE THIS TECHNIQUE
TO FIND OUT YOUR FAVOURITE
FOOTBALL TEAM IN ENGLAND IS?

Adrian says YOU CAN CERTAINLY TRY BUT I
THINK YOU WILL FAIL.

Steve says OKAY, ADRIAN OWEN, GOOD OF
YOU TO VISIT US AT TVO AGAIN,
AND CONTINUED SUCCESS WITH YOUR
WORK WE HOPE.

Adrian says MY PLEASURE, THANK YOU VERY
MUCH.

Watch: Adrian Owen: Searching for Consciousness