Absent brain matter – a follow-up

Some commentators took issue with an earlier post of mine in which I referred to people whose brains are all-but nonexistant, but who are still functional people. Here’s a clear example of the phenomenon I described, complete with CT/MRI pictures.  And links to the article about the case in New Scientist and the original story in The Lancet. Just for the record. (Subject pics on left, neurotypical example on right.)

French doctors are puzzling over the case of 44-year-old civil servant who has led a quite normal life – but with an extraordinarily tiny brain .

In a case history published in Saturday’s Lancet, doctors led by Lionel Feuillet of the Hopital de la Timone in Marseille say the father-of-two was admitted to hospital after suffering mild weakness in his left leg.

Scans by computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that the man’s cerebral cavities, called ventricles, had massively expanded.

“The brain itself, meaning the grey matter and white matter, was completely crushed against the sides of the skull,” Feuillet told AFP.

“The images were most unusual… the brain was virtually absent,” he said.

The patient’s medical history showed that at the age of six months, he suffered hydrocephalus, also called water on the brain, and needed an operation to drain this dangerous buildup of spinal fluid.

Neuropsychological testing revealed the man had an IQ of 75, with a verbal IQ of 84 and performance IQ of 70.

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2 Responses to Absent brain matter – a follow-up

  1. Ormond Otvos says:

    Ah, yes, a French civil servant with an IQ of 74. No question, a fully functioning human being.

    Looks like most of the cortex is there, just mashed. How much room does a neuron need to fire and interconnect. Oh, you aren’t sure?

    Weak gruel indeed. Think birds, monkeys, parrots. Small brains. Was the compacted brain more efficient?

    [Reply]

    Cat Reply:

    You’re (intentionally?) missing the point. The core of modern neurology states that a person with this much grey matter missing simply wouldn’t be able to function. A single case like this refutes that model – and your asinine comparisons to animals with naturally smaller brains in comparison to an adult human with 99% of his brain missing and replaced with CSF sound pretty much like the usual ‘rationalist’ hand-waving. Unless you’re actually a neuroscientist with experience in anencephalia, I’m content to just consider you a (to quote yourself) ‘weak sauce’ troll.

    [Reply]

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