A most interesting recent article by Grace Browne at Wired discusses the fact that a woman who prefers to be known only as EG — but is in her fifties — has lived a quite interesting life while missing a large portion of her brain:
For EG, who is in her fifties and grew up in Connecticut, missing a large chunk 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 first learned her brain was atypical in the autumn of 1987, at George Washington University Hospital, 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 area. For the first decade after she found out, EG didn’t tell anyone other than her parents and her two closest friends. “It creeped me out,” she says. Since then, she has told more people, but it’s still a very small circle that is aware of her unique brain anatomy.
Over the years, she says, doctors have repeatedly told EG that her brain doesn’t make sense. One doctor told her she should have seizures, or that she shouldn’t have a good vocabulary — and “he was annoyed that I did,” she says. (As part of the study at MIT, EG tested in the 98th percentile for vocabulary.) The experiences were frustrating; they “pissed me off,” as EG puts it. “They made so many pronouncements and conclusions without any investigation whatsoever,” she says.GRACE BROWNE, “SHE WAS MISSING A CHUNK OF HER BRAIN. IT DIDN’T MATTER” AT WIRED (APRIL 12, 2022)
Apparently, EG’s sister is missing most of her right lobe but is “largely unaffected” by the fact.
The Wired story focuses on how “plastic” the brain is but there is surely a bigger message here: Most of what is going on in the human mind is not as dependent on the brain as some approaches to neuroscience would require.
The paper that discusses her case requires a fee or subscription.
Here are some stories worth reflecting on:
Yes, split brains are weird, but not the way you think. Scientists who dismiss consciousness and free will ignore the fact that the higher faculties of the mind cannot be split even by splitting the brain in half.
Read the rest at Mind Matters News, published by Discovery Institute’s Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.