[ExI] no brain, no pain
thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri Jul 20 22:58:45 UTC 2007
WASHINGTON: A man with an unusually tiny brain managed to live an
entirely normal life despite his condition, caused by a fluid
build-up in his skull, French researchers reported yesterday.
Scans of the 44-year-old man's brain showed that a huge fluid-filled
chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull,
leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue.
"He was a married father of two children, and worked as a civil
servant," Lionel Feuillet and colleagues at the Universite de la
Mediterranee in Marseille wrote in a letter to the Lancet medical
journal. The man went to a hospital after he had mild weakness in his
When Dr Feuillet's staff took his medical history, they learned he
had had a shunt inserted into his head to drain away hydrocephalus --
water on the brain -- as an infant. The shunt was removed when he was 14.
So the researchers did brain scans and were astonished to see
"massive enlargement" of the lateral ventricles -- usually tiny
chambers that hold the cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain.
Intelligence tests showed the man had an IQ of 75, below the average
score of 100 but not considered mentally retarded or disabled.
"What I find amazing ... is how the brain can deal with something
which you think should not be compatible with life," said Max Muenke,
a pediatric brain defect specialist.
"If something happens very slowly over quite some time, maybe over
decades, the different parts of the brain take up functions that
would normally be done by the part that is pushed to the side," said
Dr Muenke, who was not involved in the case.
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