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The Use of Novel fMRI Technology to Detect Covert Awareness: A Case Study

Margaret Martin, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario

Published April 19, 2018 by Technologies of Justice.

Margaret Martin presented a case study on the use of novel fMRI technology to detect covert awareness during the Technologies of Justice Conference session Technology on Trial? Exploring the Use and Misuse of Evidence. The session took place on January 26, 2018, at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. 



Martin spoke about discovering consciousness in patients who would not previously or traditionally be determined as conscious using technologies before fMRI research. She introduced her audience to medical research that intersects with law, especially in cases of removing life support and the way expert evidence is used in research cases.
She showed how the potential for further research is often underestimated, and how ethical questions about the removal of life support can sometimes get in the way of ground-breaking advancements. In cases of certain death versus a risk of death, sometimes the ethics can be called into reason, regardless of the chance for advancements and an increase of time of life. She showed that this can be a legal test for the admission of expert evidence.