Humour lends insight into vegetative state

How the human brain processes jokes may help researchers determine if a person in a vegetative state can experience positive emotions—a breakthrough that could help friends, relatives and doctors better understand a patient’s mental state.

A team of researchers from Canada and the United Kingdom, led by Adrian Owen at The University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Brain and Mind, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to scan the brains of healthy volunteers as they told them jokes. Owen now plans to apply what they’ve learned looking at healthy brains to determine whether patients in vegetative states are able to feel emotions.

Read the article and watch a video of Adrian Owen describing his research.