BEIJING, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) — A new study by the California Institute of Technology has found that the brain has magical changes and adaptability, and that only half of the brains are still functioning properly after receiving a hemispheric excision.
Pictured is a cross-section of the brain of a patient who underwent a hemispheric excision.
The participants, who ranged in age from 20 to 30, underwent a hemispheric excision in childhood due to epilepsy, and the study found that despite losing a full half of their brains, the brain function was largely normal, as the remaining half of the brain function was strengthened to compensate.
Scientists know that the brain is “elastic” and strong, meaning that the brain continues to generate new neural networks and create new connections between brain cells. In fact, it is through this process that we learn new skills, for example, the more we play the guitar, the stronger the brain network responsible for musical talent.
The picture shows the cross-section of the brain of a patient who underwent a hemispheric excision in childhood (a top-to-bottom cross-section of the brain from left to right).
Patients with partial brain removal could help scientists better understand this “elasticity” of the brain. In the new study, the researchers also analyzed the brains of six normal people as a control group. All subjects performed brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess brain activity by tracking blood flow. The researchers specifically looked at neural networks in the brain responsible for everyday functions such as vision, movement, mood and cognitive abilities, and then compared these brain scans with 1,500 brain images in the database.
It turned out that the brain function of subjects who cut half of the brain was the same as that of normal people, but the connections and communication between the neural networks in the brains of these patients were even stronger than that of the average person, so that the brain appeared to be able to compensate for the function of the missing parts on its own. Many of these patients have excellent brain function, and language functionist. The researchers noted that during magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, she chatted with patients, and that chatting with them felt no different from the average person.
Medical literature can find many records of the brain’s amazing ability to adapt, for example, a boy who performed a right half brain removal as a child, including the brain region responsible for vision, but a few years after the operation, neuroscientists discovered that his left half of the brain had taken on the visual function that was originally performed by the right half of the brain, and his vision recovered.
Another recent study found that some women’s olfactory spheres, the brain regions in front of the brain that handle olfactory information, can still smell, and while it’s not clear why this happens, the researchers believe that another brain region may have taken on the responsibility of processing olfactory information.
Scientists involved in the new study hope to further understand how the brain recombines itself after an injury or stroke, and how parts of the brain compensate for damaged or missing parts, and use these findings to help more patients with brain damage. (Leaf)