After a 7-year coma, Ariel Sharon has "significant" brain activity

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has been in a deep coma for 7 years, but scientists say that he now shows signs of normal brain activity. After a stroke in 2006, the politician lapsed into a vegetative state and has been kept alive on a respirator. Reports the AP:

Ben-Gurion University on Sunday said Sharon responded to external stimuli at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. He was shown pictures of his family and listened to recordings of his son's voice while undergoing a special brain imaging scan. The university said "significant brain activity was observed ... indicating appropriate processing of these stimulations."

At this point, it's not clear whether this brain activity is a new development, or something that was there all along but unobserved.

Comas are still something of a medical mystery. There are many examples of people who appear to be vegetative, but then brain scans reveal that they are alert and aware of their surroundings.

Further Reading: The Neuroscience of Comas, Or What It Means to Be Trapped Inside Your Own Mind