The girl with half a brain
“If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t.” ― Ian Stewart
A three year old girl in Germany was suffering seizures and nervous twitching on her left side. When she had an MRI scan, it revealed that the right hemisphere of her brain was completely missing.
Even more surprising than her survival up until that point, was the fact that, after the seizures were treated, she carried on to live a healthy life with normal psychological function. At 10 years old, she was described as “witty, charming and intelligent” and had developed a passion for roller-skating.
What really baffled the doctors was the fact that she appeared to have perfect eyesight, as the left and right fields of vision are usually controlled by opposite sides of the brain. People with brain damage to one hemisphere most commonly report loss of vision in the opposite eye, but this girl appeared to be a medical marvel.
How is this possible?
Well, until relatively recently, it was believed that the brain was ‘fixed’ when we enter adulthood. It was ‘common knowledge’ that you couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks.
However, the discovery of neuroplasticity, the notion that our brains are capable of change at any age, was a watershed moment. This means that you can wilfully change your brain to improve your memory, thinking, and even your habits and personality.
Yes, your brain is like a muscle. It responds to training, and this highlights the importance of keeping your brain in shape, so it performs at its best, and remains responsive and adaptable.