Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the activity in the brain of former prime minister Ariel Sharon -- who has lain in a deep vegetative state for the last seven years -- has been shown to be "surprisingly significant," according to a team of brain researchers at Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center on Sunday. However, that does not mean that he will ever regain consciousness or that he feels anything, other fMRI experts said.
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The special scanner conducts measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow and is used to map neural activity in the brain and spinal cord. It does not require people to undergo shots, surgery, ingest substances or be exposed to radiation. The procedure is similar to MRI but uses the change in magnetization between oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood as its basic measure.