People With Half Their Brains Removed Doing Surprisingly Well

By Dan Robitzski – Re-Blogged From Futurism
“They have intact language skills. When I put them in the scanner, we made small talk, just like the hundreds of other individuals I have scanned.”

One of the greatest marvels of the human brain is neuroplasticity — the ability to restructure itself and adapt if chunks get damaged or removed.

Now, a new study reveals that neuroplasticity is more powerful than previously believed. In some cases, adults who had half of their brain taken out as children, in a procedure called a hemispherectomy, are living regular lives — and can have stronger neural connections than those who still had the full thing.

If scientists can figure out how that came to be, they may uncover new treatments for strokes or other forms of brain damage.


The new study examined the neural function and connectivity of six people, all now in their 20s and 30s, who underwent hemispherectomies between the ages of three months and 11 years, HealthDay reports. The procedure — which involves slicing the brain down the middle and taking out an entire half — is an extreme but not unheard-of treatment for children with violent, frequent, and dangerous seizures.

Hemispherectomy patients have long been known to lead normal lives after the procedure, but the piecemeal case studies didn’t reveal the extent to which the brain was able to recover. The California Institute of Technology doctors behind the new study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports, say they were surprised at just how well the halved brains adapted and reorganized themselves over time.

“The people with hemispherectomies that we studied were remarkably high-functioning,” CalTech researcher Dorit Kliemann said. “They have intact language skills. When I put them in the scanner, we made small talk, just like the hundreds of other individuals I have scanned.”

“You can almost forget their condition when you meet them for the first time,” Kliemann added.


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Health Benefits of Kindness

By Lynn Allison – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

That warm glow you feel after helping someone is a real thing according to recent studies. Researchers at the University of Sussex, England, found a physiological response in brains scanned by MRIs while people were making kind decisions.

It was found that the brain literally lit up, meaning that the certain regions of the brain were activated and used more oxygen. This phenomenon occurred whether or not the kind act was altruistic or the participant expected something in return for his or her kindness. However, researchers also observed a unique response when people were kind without expecting any gain from their actions, according to “Medical Daily.”

Discovered: Anti-Anxiety Circuit in Brain

By Bruce Goldman – Re-Blogged From Stanford Medicine

Stimulation of a distinct brain circuit that lies within a brain structure typically associated with fearfulness produces the opposite effect: Its activity, instead of triggering or increasing anxiety, counters it.

That’s the finding in a paper by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers published online March 9 in Nature. In the study, Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, and his colleagues employed a mouse model to show that stimulating activity exclusively in this circuit enhances animals’ willingness to take risks, while inhibiting its activity renders them more risk-averse. This discovery could lead to new treatments for anxiety disorders, said Deisseroth, an associate professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

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Scientists Discover Why You Procrastinate

By Health Day – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

The inclination to delay things rather than get right to work on them may be hardwired into some people’s brains, and not the product of a flawed character, German researchers suggest.

The findings come from brain scans of 264 men and women.

MRIs revealed that a brain region involved in motivation tends to be larger among people who put things off, while communication between that part of the brain and another involved in taking action appeared to be weaker.

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1 in 9 US Adults Over 45 Reports Memory Problems

By Health Day – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

 If you’re middle-aged and you think you’re losing your memory, you’re not alone, a new U.S. government report shows.

In fact, one in nine Americans aged 45 and older say they are experiencing thinking declines. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noticing a decline in your mental abilities (“cognitive decline”) is one of the earliest signs of impending Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

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Drinking Water Helps Aging Brains Get More From Exercise

By HealthDay – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

Older adults, drink up. You need plenty of water during exercise so your brain gets the full benefits of working out, researchers say.

“Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration, and subsequently may reduce the cognitive [mental] health-related benefits of exercise,” said Brandon Yates, of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

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