Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, told reporters on Sunday: "As of tomorrow morning, we will gradually reduce the depth of the anaesthesia, then we will be able to evaluate the neurological function of the prime minister's brain."

Mor-Yosef said the latest scan, carried out on Sunday morning, had shown signs of an improvement in Sharon's condition.

"As a result of all these indicators, the team of experts has decided to start the process of reducing the prime minister's sedation tomorrow morning, on condition there are no signicant events between now and the morning," he said.

Surgeons at the hospital, where Sharon has been under sedation and on a respirator since the stroke last Wednesday, have said there is a good chance he will survive, although it is unclear how much his faculties have been impaired.

Brain function

"To sum up, the situation is still critical but stable with an improvement in the CT [computed tomography] scan," Mor-Yosef  said. "All the other vital signs are within normal limit and the ... fever is also within normal limit."

Mor-Yosef said that in 24 hours' time, doctors would be able to provide more information on the functioning of the prime minister's brain, after his gradual re-awakening.

"This is what we have all been waiting for since Wednesday, to see how the prime minister's brain is functioning," he said.