Drama imagining the inner world of Ella, who is in a minimally conscious state.
Radio 4 drama
When Ella is asked questions pointing her towards places and memories, she begins to realise that the world she lives in now is just the imagined life of her mind and in reality she is in hospital in a minimally conscious state. Ella realises that these questions, posed by a neurologist, are attempts to discover whether she is conscious and that her possible answers are her only way to communicate with others, especially with her daughter, Charlie, who has her own questions that desperately need answers.
The Sky is Wider was developed through Wellcome Experimental Stories in consultation with Anil Seth (Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience and co-director at Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex). The drama was inspired by the themes of the current States of Mind exhibition at Wellcome Collection in London which explores the nature of consciousness and runs until 16th October 2016.
The drama asks what it is to be a self. It explores an 'active approach' in which the neurologist asks questions of the patient in an attempt to ascertain their level of consciousness by examining the brain responses. Currently brain imaging (fMRI, EEG) can be used to actively decode responses to questions in patients who, following severe brain injury, are left in minimally conscious states. These methods represent a revolution in clinical neurology; allowing us to assess whether there is any residual consciousness or awareness left, following devastating brain injury and allowing us to open a means of communication.
Written by Linda Marshall Griffiths
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