For some children with severe epilepsy, the best treatment may be a very rare surgical procedure in which a large portion — even half — of the child’s brain is removed or disconnected. Amazingly, many of these individuals can relearn motor, language, and cognitive skills. How? The brain reorganizes itself and builds new connections. To better understand this incredible process, and hopefully inform new interventions and rehabilitation, Caltech neuroscientists conducted brain scans on six adults “all of whom received the surgeries as children and now have relatively normal cognitive abilities.” From Caltech:
“Despite missing an entire brain hemisphere, we found all the same major brain networks that you find in healthy brains with two hemispheres,” says Dorit Kliemann, lead author of the new report and a postdoctoral scholar who works in the laboratory of Ralph Adolphs (PhD ’93), the Bren Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology, and the director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center.
The brain scans also revealed an increased number of connections between the brain networks in the patients compared to healthy individuals. For example, the regions in the patients’ brains that control the function of walking appeared to be communicating more with the regions that control talking than what is typically observed.
“It appears that the networks are collaborating more,” says Kliemann. “The networks themselves do not look abnormal in these patients, but the level of connections between the networks is increased in all six patients….”
Says Kliemann, “It’s truly amazing what these patients can do. Yes, they have challenges, but their cognitive abilities are still remarkably high functioning given that they are missing half of the brain tissue. We need to understand how this is possible with only a single brain hemisphere—an important question about plasticity, reorganization, and compensation.”
This video depicts light speed in contexts where it appears to be slow. The moon is 1.2 light seconds from Earth; Mars several light minutes. This is, of course, why humans aren’t moving out of this solar system any time soon.
Randall Munroe’s “Good Question” column in the New York Times is in the vein of his How To and What If books, in which he answers weird science questions with equally weird thoroughness.
This year’s episode of the grand meteor shower the Leonids will peak on Monday morning before dawn. The meteors are bits of debris dropping off the comet Tempel-Tuttle that intersects Earth’s orbit every November. Unfortunately, it may be tough to see many shooting stars because activity this year will be low and the waning gibbous […]
Need a boost on that resume? Get a valuable tech education on your own time with these eBook bundles. They contain guides from Packt Publishing that cover everything from game development to machine learning. The Complete Mobile App Developer eBook Bundle It’s a veritable gold rush in the App Store these days. Get in on […]
Vinyl is officially back. People are hearing the proof behind the initial “retro” excitement: that records really do have a richer sound. And if you haven’t switched to old-school records for serious listening, it’s a new golden age. Why? Because quality turntables like the Altec Lansing ALT-500 are finally available to a market other than […]
Between all of our apps, streaming devices, Bluetooth speakers, and energy-sucking decorations, paying for utilities each month can be…brutal. In fact, the average household spends roughly $70 a month on the water bill alone. That number might not seem terribly significant, but when you add it up, that’s $840 a year — a pretty significant […]