Boy almost back to normal 3 years after doctors remove large section of his brain

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Scan of child's brain before and after tumor removal. Image credit: New Scientist

A boy who had large parts of the right side of his brain removed due to a slow-growing tumor made a nearly full recovery in the three years after his surgery, with other areas of his brain compensating for the loss.

Their case study highlights the brain’s tremendous ability to adapt to such losses and will help researchers better understand how, exactly, parts of the brain can accommodate such losses, the researchers write.

The boy, identified as UD in the case study, was a healthy, normal kid—up until he suddenly suffered a seizure at age four. He subsequently developed intractable epilepsy due to the tumor. When he was nearly seven years old, his parents and doctors made the tough decision to surgically remove the mass. That also meant removing the entire right side of his occipital lobe and part of his temporal lobe on his right side.

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After the surgery, doctors and researchers weren’t sure exactly how UD’s brain would handle losing such key visual and recognition regions.

“The dramatic findings of essentially normal perceptual behavior and normal (albeit rearranged) neural correlates… attest to the power of plasticity of the higher-order visual system,” [researcher Marlene] Behrmann and colleagues conclude.

[T]he surgery and reorganization was a triumph for UD—who has also been seizure free since the procedure.

Read full, original post: Doctors cut out a large chunk of a boy’s brain—now he’s doing just fine

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