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Man born without connection between two halves of brain functions normally—at 88

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From Wired:

One of the most distinctive physical features of the human brain is the fact that the cortex is divided into two hemispheres. The main connection between the two halves is a thick bundle of fibers called the corpus callosum. This is no quiet lane, it’s a major freeway constituting around 200 million neural tracts.

In an increasingly rare procedure, the callosum is sliced as a radical treatment for epilepsy. People who receive this treatment are referred to colloquially as split-brain patients and lab tests reveal profound effects on their mental functioning. In many ways, it’s as if the surgery leaves their mind divided in two.

A new paper reports on an elderly gentleman, referred to as H.W., who aged 88 presented at a clinic complaining of recent intermittent problems controlling his left hand and some mild memory difficulties. Preliminary tests found him to be high functioning. He scored 30 out of 30 on the “mini mental state examination”, which is used to pick up signs of dementia or confusion. But when the researchers – a team led by Natalie Brescian – scanned H.W.’s brain, they made a surprising discovery. He had no corpus callosum. The main channel between his two brain hemispheres was completely missing. More.

Apparently, the brain adapts best to this injury when it is early. In the case, the guy was created with it.

The article goes on to note that the actual damage from the severing of the two halves (an older form of epilepsy treatment) was often apparent only in lab tests, not in normal life with friends and family.

So another lecture hall neuroscience myth bites the dust.

Note: Such anomalies may be more common than we realize. The thing is, there weren’t easy means of discovery in the past, and even today, no one is usually looking for them. This guy only came to attention when he showed up, very late in life, complaining about minor neuro problems.

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4 Replies to “Man born without connection between two halves of brain functions normally—at 88

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    Acartia_bogart says:

    So another lecture hall neuroscience myth bites the dust.

    I’m not sure what myth you are talking about. I am definitely not a neuroscientist, but I do vaguely remember lectures on the severing of the corpus callosum to control sever epilepsy. If I remember correctly, they generally functioned quite normally but that you could conduct controlled experiments to demonstrate some very unusual reactions.

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    Smidlee says:

    “Somewhat strangely, Brescian and her team don’t seem to have performed these kinds of specialized tests with H.W.”

    So they didn’t make him to these “unnatural” tests that requires keeping his eye unmoved on a fit spot on a monitor.

    The same with detecting our blind spot we have to close one eye (not very smart IRL. ) then fixes your other eye on a X on the screen (eyes are design to move around) then and only then will the black circle on the screen disappear.

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    bornagain77 says:

    a few notes as to corpus callosum anomalies:

    I believe the late mega-savant Kim Peek, ‘The Real Rain Man’, suffered from a missing corpus callosum,,,

    Kim Peek
    Excerpt: Peek was born in Salt Lake City, Utah[6] with macrocephaly,[5] damage to the cerebellum, and agenesis of the corpus callosum,[7] a condition in which the bundle of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain is missing; in Peek’s case, secondary connectors such as the anterior commissure were also missing.[5] There is speculation that his neurons made unusual connections due to the absence of a corpus callosum, which resulted in an increased memory capacity
    per wiki

    The Real Rain Man – Documentary
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wjgMtNF3Ms

    As to split brain experiments, Here is a first person account of the split-brain experiment in which the person in the experiment testifies to being ‘one’ person although his actions were split:

    Excerpt: BTW, with regards to your citation of the split-brain experiments (and people who suffer from that due to injury, etc). I was involved in one of those split-brain experiments myself. (Which is possible by temporarily numbing the corpus callosum.) And believe me, it was the damnedest thing. The thing is, even though different parts of my brain were acting as if they had no knowledge of “each other”, behind it all was still “me”, consciously experiencing the strange disconnection.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-460565

    Of related interest, If the mind of a person were merely the brain, as materialists hold, then if half of a brain were removed a ‘person’ should only be ‘half the person’, or at least somewhat less of a ‘person’, as they were before, but that is not the case. The ‘whole person’ stays intact even though the brain suffers severe impairment:

    Miracle Of Mind-Brain Recovery Following Hemispherectomies – Dr. Ben Carson – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zBrY77mBNg

    Dr. Gary Mathern – What Can You Do With Half A Brain? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrKijBx_hAw

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

    The man with the missing brain – 17 Aug 2014
    A medical recovery that is baffling science – and giving hope to head injury patients
    Excerpt: Doctors deemed his cognitive function so low it was untestable – that is, an IQ below 50. It was likely, they said, that he would have to rely on others for even the most menial of tasks for the rest of his life.,,,
    When he was sent to her, in October 1995, his IQ had climbed significantly to 89, just a point below the lower edge of “normal” (between 90 and 110) on the Revised Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. But when she was finished with him in February 1997 – after three sessions a week, with gaps for the occasional surgery – Lewis had an IQ of more than 151, close to so-called “genius” levels,,,
    Lewis is missing a third of his right hemisphere,,,
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cul.....brain.html

    The preceding evidence offers fairly stunning confirmation for the ‘argument from divisibility’ for the soul. Dr. Moreland covers that argument in the following video:

    Case for the Existence of the Soul – (Argument from Divisibility at 38:20 minute mark) – JP Moreland – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....age#t=2299

    Verse and Music:

    John 3:12
    I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

    Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash – September When It Comes – song about life and mortality
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2WilM6ljUg

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