Karen Quinlan

William Saidel saidel at crab.rutgers.edu
Mon Jul 11 10:18:01 EST 1994

herwin at mason1.gmu.edu (HARRY R. ERWIN) writes:

>They did an autopsy on Karen Ann Quinlan's brain to see if they could
>learn anything about her persistant vegetative state. It turns out her
>thalamus had been extensively lesioned, thus turning off sensory input
>other than from the olfactory system. She may well have been conscious
>until she died.

>Harry Erwin
>Internet: herwin at gmu.edu 
>Just a dumb engineer working on Katchalsky nets....

Nancy Andreason showed at a meeting in D.C. last summer, her attempt
to normalize brains as seen in image slices. She then compared the
brains of normals vs. clinically defined schizophrenics and showed
images suggesting that the sensory thalamus was highly underdeveloped
or atrophied (remarkably smaller than norm) leaving me with a hint
that perhaps the voices and the images schizophrenics report were
constructed, perhaps because the operations of a brain cannot tolerate
(?, not sure how to describe this state) empty space.
  Coupling that with responses of individuals in isolation chambers
(visions and voices, etc.), leads me to conclude that if K.Q. had
destroyed her sensory thalamus, she had no contact with the outside
world. If she had no contact, then there is no way to even talk about
her consciousness since she could not report about it to another.

By the way, Nancy Andreasen (proper spelling) can be found at the
University of Iowa College of Medicine.

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