By Bec Crew
When a woman checked herself into the PLA General Hospital in China’s Shandong Province, she reported symptoms of dizziness and nausea. She’d had a shaky walk for most of her life, and unlike most people, who learn to walk when they’re very young infants, she was only able to master this skill at seven years old. She was also only able to speak properly from the age of six.
According to Helen Thomson at New Scientist, once the doctors performed a CAT scan – which combines information from several X-rays to produce a comprehensive image of structures inside the brain – the source problem was immediately made clear. The woman’s entire cerebellum was missing, and in its place was nothing but cerebrospinal fluid, which is a special substance that protects the brain from damaging knocks and disease.
The cerebellum makes up 10 percent of the brain’s total volume, but contains 50 percent of its neurons. It sits beneath the brain’s two hemispheres, and is made up of a unique combination of small and compact tissue folds. It plays a crucial role in motor control and speech, and there’s evidence to suggest that it’s involved in cognitive functions such as attention and language, and perhaps even in mitigating feelings of fear and pleasure.
Read more here.