Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon demonstrated impressive progress during a routine testing of his brain's functionality late last week, prompting some in the Israeli media to speculate that he might be slowly coming out of his coma.
Sharon suffered a major brain hemorrhage in 2006 and slipped into what doctors then described as a vegetative state. He has remained in stable condition ever since.
Last week's test was conducted at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, and employed a new MRI technology developed by a team of Israeli and American doctors.
During the two-hour test, Sharon was shown pictures of his family and was made to listen to an audio recording of his eldest son's voice.
To the doctors' surprise, "significant brain activity was observed in each test in specific brain regions, indicating appropriate processing of these stimuli," according to a statement released by Soroka.
One of the lead doctors said that while Sharon's brain is clearly transferring information to the proper areas for processing, it is still uncertain if the former premier is consciously aware of these stimuli.
Whatever the case, the tests did show a very real improvement in Sharon's condition.