Into the Gray Zone
A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death
A neuroscientist reveals his work with patients believed to be brain dead to explain how up to twenty percent of them were still consciously alive, sharing insights into what life may be like for such patients and its moral implications.
"From renowned neuroscientist Adrian Owen comes a thrilling, heartbreaking tale of discovery in one of the least-understood scientific frontiers: the twilight region between full consciousness and brain death. People who inhabit this middle region called the 'gray zone' have sustained traumatic brain injuries or are the victims of stroke or degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Many are oblivious to the outside world, and their doctors and families often believe they're incapable of thought. But a sizable number of patients--as many as twenty percent--are experiencing something different: intact minds adrift within damaged brains and bodies. In 2006, Adrian Owen led a team that discovered this lost population and made medical history, provoking an ongoing debate among scientists, physicians, and philosophers about the meaning, value, and purpose of life. In Into the Gray Zone, we follow Owen as he pushes forward the boundaries of science, using a variety of sophisticated brain scans, auditory prompts, and even Alfred Hitchcock film clips to not only 'find' patients who are trapped inside their heads but to actually communicate with them and elicit answers to moving questions, such as 'Are you in pain?' and 'Do you want to go on living?' and 'Are you happy?' (Many gray zone patients do, in fact, claim to be satisfied with their quality of life.) Into the Gray Zone shines a fascinating light on how we think, remember, and pay attention. And it shows us how the field of brain-computer interfaces is about to explode, radically changing prognoses for people with impaired brain function and creating, for all of us, the tantalizing possibility of telepathy and augmented intelligence. Ultimately; this is not just a spellbinding story of scientific discovery but a deeply human, affirming book that causes us to wonder anew at the indomitable bonds of love."--Jacket.
New York :, Scribner,, 2017
First Scribner hardcover edition
xi, 304 pages ; 24 cm