Friday, July 24, 2009

Neuroplasticity: Girl's brain rewires before birth, saves vision

In "Half a brain girl recovers vision", the BBC reports:

Scientists say they have solved the mystery of how a girl with half a brain has near perfect vision in one eye.

The experts were baffled by the 10-year-old girl who was born missing the right side of her brain, whose job it is to map the left field of vision.

Scans revealed the German girl's brain rewired itself during development when she was still in her mother's womb.
Dr Lars Muckli, of the university's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, working with German colleagues from Frankfurt, said: "The brain has amazing plasticity but we were quite astonished to see just how well the single hemisphere of the brain in this girl has adapted to compensate for the missing half.

"Despite lacking one hemisphere, the girl has normal psychological function and is perfectly capable of living a normal and fulfilling life. She is witty, charming and intelligent."
Only recently has it become possible to determine that some people simply don't have half or more of their brains. When that is a natural condition to which they have had time to adapt, they often do surprisingly well.

More "brain absent" or related stories from The Mindful Hack, my blog on neuroscience and spirituality:

Just how much brain do you need?

Brain? Do you really need a brain?

The inner lives of people classed as vegetative

We still have no explanation for why humans have minds or thoughts