Daily briefing: ‘My life without a left temporal lobe’

By | 08/09/2022
Temporal lobe/Public Domain

While the human being brain appears essential to existence human, people can live normally — and even excel — with large parts of the brain missing or with brains that take been cut in one-half. That happened to EG, who grew upward missing her left temporal lobe. As told at

For EG, who is in her fifties and grew up in Connecticut, missing a large clamper of her brain has had surprisingly little effect on her life. She has a graduate degree, has enjoyed an impressive career, and speaks Russian—a second language–so well that she has dreamed in it. She start learned her brain was atypical in the autumn of 1987, at George Washington Academy Infirmary, when she had it scanned for an unrelated reason. The cause was likely a stroke that happened when she was a baby; today, there is only cerebro-spinal fluid in that brain surface area. For the beginning decade after she constitute out, EG didn’t tell anyone other than her parents and her two closest friends. “It creeped me out,” she says. Since and so, she has told more than people, but it’due south yet a very pocket-sized circumvolve that is aware of her unique brain beefcake.

Over the years, she says, doctors have repeatedly told EG that her brain doesn’t make sense. One medico told her she should have seizures, or that she shouldn’t have a practiced vocabulary—and “he was annoyed that I did,” she says.

Grace Browne, “She Was Missing a Chunk of Her Brain. It Didn’t Matter” at
Wired UK
(April 12, 2022) The newspaper requires a fee or subscription.

EG has since go the bailiwick of a paper published this calendar month in
by MIT cognitive neuroscientist Evelina Fedorenko and her team.

Evelina Fedorenko

Report of EG has proceeded on the assumption that other regions of her brain had taken upwards the task of processing language. That’s non equally unusual as it sounds; the brain is a living organ, not a machine. Given an opportunity, it can shift burdens around
This is especially true if, as in EG’south instance, the impairment occurred when she was a baby. Children’s brains announced more neuroplastic than those of adults, probably because many thinking tasks accept non however been assigned.

Amongst people with intact brains the left hemisphere ordinarily processes linguistic communication. Only left-handed people are more than probable than others to have the right hemisphere doing that task. In EG’s case, the researchers ended, based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), that language processing had shifted to her right hemisphere. Her left frontal cortex could still do math tasks, however.

Eastward.G. herself contributed to the paper in
writing a note every bit a
participant of interest
(possibly to establish that she was indeed fluent, articulate, and literate). It reads in part,

Please do not call my brain abnormal, that creeps me out. My brain is atypical. If not for accidently finding these differences, no ane would pick me out of a crowd every bit likely to have these, or any other differences that make me unique. In the past, several well-meaning but misguided healthcare professionals have told me that I should not have more than a 5th grade vocabulary, that I should take seizures, or that I should accept other deficits and limitations. I do not. They seemed disappointed, even aroused, that I did not have the limitations they unilaterally pronounced that I should have, without the do good of whatsoever farther investigation. I successfully completed higher and graduate schoolhouse, have a vocabulary in the 98th percentile, and learned a foreign language (Russian) well enough that I dreamed in it.

Greta Tuckute, Alexander Paunov, Hope Kean, Hannah Modest, Zachary Miner off, Idan Blank, Evelina Fedorenko, Frontal language areas do not emerge in the absence of temporal language areas: A case study of an individual born without a left temporal lobe,
169 (2022) 108184.

Indeed. Except for the advent of fMRI, no ane would ever have known nearly her encephalon aberration — a sobering thought when we realize how many definitive judgments are made on the ground of the merely partial agreement that a new engineering science oft provides.

In reality, the human brain is remarkable non only for its complexity merely for its adaptations to adversity, especially early in life.

Here’s a preprint of the writer’southward findings, open admission, at

Here Are some other stories of people living with partial or split brains:

Yes, split brains are weird, but
the way you recall. Scientists who dismiss consciousness and free will ignore the fact that the higher faculties of the heed cannot be split even by splitting the encephalon in half.

Some people think and speak with only half a encephalon. A new study sheds lite on how they do it.

Boy built-in with two% of brain does maths, loves scientific discipline. Noah Wall’southward story raises intriguing questions virtually the relationship between the brain and the mind


Iv researchers whose piece of work sheds light on the reality of the mind The brain can be cut in half, simply the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple.

Source: https://mindmatters.ai/2022/05/woman-missing-key-language-part-of-brain-scores-98-in-vocab-test/