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New way to communicate with brain damaged patients

10 November 2011 Last updated at 19:42 GMT

A method of communicating with brain damaged patients who appear to be in a vegetative state has been discovered by scientists in the UK and Belgium.

Writing in The Lancet medical journal they describe how they measured electrical activity in the brain to detect consciousness.

The technique, known as EEG, is painless and involves attaching electrodes to the head.

Doctors hope it can be used as a diagnostic tool in homes and hospitals.

Fergus Walsh reports.