enigma48 writes "Scientists have found that some individuals in the vegetative and minimally conscious states, despite lacking the means of reporting awareness themselves, can learn and thereby demonstrate at least a partial consciousness. Their findings are reported in today's (20 September) online edition of Nature Neuroscience.
It is the first time that scientists have tested whether patients in vegetative and minimally conscious states can learn. By establishing that they can, it is believed that this simple test will enable practitioners to assess the patient's consciousness without the need of imaging.
The abstract is available in the advance issue of nature here: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nn.2391.html"
Link to Original Source