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Ariel Sharon showing signs of brain activity

Sharon responded to recordings of his son's voice during an fMRI. But the news may not be as groundbreaking as it seems.

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This picture taken on November 23, 2005 shows Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon attending a Parliament session in Jerusalem. Sharon has been in a coma for the last seven years. He has recently been showing signs of life. (Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon showed signs of brain activity on an fMRI for the first time since he suffered a stroke in 2006.

Bloomberg reported that during a two-hour functional MRI, or fMRI, Sharon, 85, responded to family photos and recordings of his son's voice.

Doctors from the US and Israel tested Sharon's brain activity while he an fMRI, during which he listened to the audio and was shown images.

However, doctors stressed that despite responding to the the stimuli, Sharon was not actively engaged.

“Information from the external world is being transferred to the appropriate parts of Mr. Sharon’s brain,” Dr. Martin Monti, said in an e-mailed statement,reported Bloomberg.

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“However, the evidence does not as clearly indicate whether Mr. Sharon is consciously perceiving this information.”

GlobalPost's senior correspondent in Israel, Noga Tarnopolsky, said that the announcement may not be as groundbreaking as it initially seems.

"His personal physician spoke but none of the neurosurgeons who actually operated on him have been permitted to speak up," she reported.

I spoke with a physician with knowledge of Sharon's case, who implied that this has been Sharon's state all along; it's simply the first time an fMRI was done.

Sharon has been at the rehabilitation hospital at the Sheba Medical Center for the last six-and-a-half years, Haaretz reported. He had served four years as prime minister before his stroke in 2006.

During his tenure as prime minister, Sharon presided over the controversial pull-out of Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005.

Noga Tarnopolsky contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/130127/ariel-sharon-showing-signs-brain-activ