There is an interesting new research study in the field of neuroscience that I thought deserved a comment. (I must admit as well that I haven't read all the details yet, so I could be incorrect or inaccurate - anyone who is seriously interested in this subject should read the original work instead of relying on my summary)

Scientists have finally been able to communicate indirectly with patients who are in a vegetative state.  The method involves placing patients inside of an fMRI machine, which measures the activity of different parts of the brain, and then asking simple questions. By first performing the experiment on healthy volunteers, they can determine what the brain does when a person is agreeing or saying 'yes' and how it is different from either disagreeing or not responding at all.

The scientists then used the same method on vegetative patients (who have otherwise normal brains) and asked them questions. What they claim to have found is that the same parts of the brain were responding, signalling yes or no answers to their questions. In one case, they went further and determined that a coma patient had memories of things he had been told while he was in a vegetative state.

Obviously this method is not going to work on all patients, and it is just a preliminary result  that hasn't been fully confirmed yet, but it is promising. If it is confirmed by other medical scientists, it would be a benefit to doctors who need to know symptoms or families and friends who want to ensure the patients comfort. 

This could be a huge breakthrough for neuroscience and for medicine in general.