Woman found functioning without a cerebellum in her brain

Sep 16, 2014

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.

17 comments on “Woman found functioning without a cerebellum in her brain

  • I’ve never had an M.R.I. or cat scan done on my brain, and after reading this article, I’m seriously wondering if I am also missing a cerebellum. It would explain a lot of stuff.



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  • I am amazed at how tiny the human genome is. It is a minute fraction the size needed to specify an aircraft design. I wonder to what extent it specifies the wiring of the brain. Perhaps is it like specifying RAM in computers, just more and more of the same does not require extra specification bits. Maybe the brain is just a big toolbox that can be wired up in many different ways based on need, and failure of some parts.



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  • If, in fact, the other parts of the brain are able to adapt and ‘rewire’ to compensate for the missing neurons in the absent cerebellum and enable this woman to ultimately function within normal parameters, this speaks to a breathtaking fluidity in the apparent ‘tasking’ of each brain cell cluster. I’m guessing this adaptability is also related to age. Perhaps infantile brain cells are more adaptable, not only within their ‘task’ (I’m thinking here of the vast range of language structures the infant can grow into) but between tasks as well.

    More and more, I wish I had majored in science at university instead of literature.



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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiBeLoB6CKE

    I can’t seem to find any information on it and am not qualified to comment in detail but I have seen another program in which a child was being treated for a “lazy eye” condition with the usual patch over the good eye. When the patch was removed they found the child had gone blind in the “good eye” but the eye looked fully functional in every way. After years of research they found that the eye had been covered at a crucial stage and the link to the brain had been rewired to the “Lazy eye”.



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  • Hey , Michael behe and Discovery Institute, time to yap your “Irreducible Complexity” . Show the world what a intelligent designed brain we have lol.



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  • Behold Dog’s perfect design! You know, like aircraft designers usually consider the possibility for a fairly important part of the aircraft could be left-out during assembly and missing on it’s maiden flight, it would still fly. Oh wait, no they don’t…..



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  • Brewster Sep 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Behold Dog’s perfect design! You know, like aircraft designers usually consider the possibility for a fairly important part of the aircraft could be left-out during assembly and missing on it’s maiden flight, it would still fly. Oh wait, no they don’t…..

    I think the improvised rewiring of the lady’s brain, is more like the opportunist lucky improvising of the use of the Solar Wind to stabilise the Kepler planet-hunting space craft, when two of its three orientation gyroscopes failed.

    http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Kepler-spacecraft-sails-on-under-the-power-of-5487997.php

    The planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, unable to aim at the stars after two of its steering wheels broke down, is back on its celestial mission again, thanks to the power of sunshine.

    And NASA officials in Washington have given it another two years on the hunt, with a third year likely before the spacecraft runs out of fuel, said Charlie Soback, Kepler’s project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View.



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  • Sweet, I remember news of when the second gyroscope failed but never followed on whether they were able to solve it. On a side, hurray for science education when write-ups have to use terms like “steering wheels” and “reaction wheels” for the lay persons because they wouldn’t know what is a gyroscope and cannot be bothered to look it up? smh



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