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Israel’s comatose Sharon showing brain activity

JERUSALEM — A team of Israeli and US scientists has announced that pioneering tests on comatose former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon show significant brain activity.

Officials at Ben-Gurion University said Sunday that Sharon, 84, responded to external stimuli at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba last week.

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During two hours of testing, Sharon was shown pictures of his family and listened to recordings of his son’s voice while undergoing a special brain imaging scan. The university said ‘‘significant brain activity was observed . . . indicating appropriate processing of these stimulations.’’

However, the former leader remains in a deep coma, and the tests did not indicate whether his brain is processing the information.

Sharon led Israel from 2001 until suffering a stroke in 2006. Since then, he has been in a vegetative state, connected to a respirator.

He had a storied military career, fighting three wars before entering politics. He unilaterally withdrew Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005.

The team of neuroscientists who tested Sharon included professor Martin Monti from the University of California Los Angeles. They developed the tests that were used on the former prime minister.

Sharon has been in Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv since 2006. He was taken to the Soroka Hospital in Tel Aviv for MRI scans on Thursday.

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