enigma48 writes to mention that a collaborative study between the Universities of Buenos Aires and Cambridge have demonstrated that individuals in a vegetative state can still learn and demonstrate at least a partial consciousness. Their findings are reported in a recent 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 also available in the advance issue of Nature."