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6/10/14

Born With Half A Brain, She Has Compensated


"Michelle Mack has turned medical thinking upside down.

Born with only half a brain, Mack can speak normally, graduated from high school and has an uncanny knack for dates. . . .



At 27, doctors determined that the right side of her brain had essentially rewired itself to make up for function that was likely lost during a pre-birth stroke. But her childhood and young adult years were fraught with frustration.

"It was very hard for me," Mack said. "It was very hard for me growing up. No one knew the truth about my brain."

Mack's parents, Carol and Wally, realized shortly after her birth that something was wrong.

An MRI scan revealed she was missing nearly all the left side of her brain. While it was clear Mack has some problems, Grafman said he and the family were shocked by the extent of the damage.

'We were surprised to see the extent of the lesion in her brain, which basically took away the left side of her brain," said Grafman. "There's some very deep structures remaining, but the surface of her brain, the cortex is 95 percent gone and some of the deeper structures, structures that control movement, are missing. These are all structures that are important for movement, behavior, cognition.' " More.

In another case, Howard Dully's young brain was horribly destroyed by Dr Walter Freeman's "ice pick" lobotomy, yet it managed to rewire itself. More.

Neuroplasticity (also known as cortical re-mapping) refers to the ability of the human brain to change as a result of one's experience, that the brain is "plastic" and "malleable". The discovery of this feature of the brain is rather modern; the previous belief amongst scientists was that the brain does not change after the critical period of infancy. Wikipedia

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