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It's A No Brainer

Updated on November 8, 2014

Lorber Looks At Lad Lacking Lobes


While there is that old chestnut floating around that humans only use ten percent of their full brain capacity, that case has been proved to be a very subjective one indeed. Imagine that your big old melon was fill with nothing more than cerebrospinal fluid and a thimble full of brain cells. The discovery that such anomalous people actually exist has sparked a fiery debate as to whether we need a brain at all. You would think that the ratings and mere existence of such television programs as the Jerry Springer Show would be irrefutable proof that this is not only a possibility, but a fact.

During a routine physical examination in the 1970s, the campus doctor at the University of Sheffield referred a young man to the professor of neurology, Dr. John Lorber, due to the fact that the student's head what slightly larger than normal. After a full examination and a CAT scan, it was found that the student had about a millimeter of mantle covering the top of his spinal column. The student's abnormally large skull was attributed to hydrocephalus, a condition where there is a blockage of the cerebrospinal fluid inside the cranium that won't allow the fluid to circulate throughout the brain and into the circulatory system. Most of those born with hydrocephalus usually suffer from intracranial pressure, retarding the proper development and growth of the brain. Unless it is recognized immediately and an emergency shunting surgery is performed, many suffering from this abnormality die within several months or are severely developmentally disabled This young Sheffield student, however, had an IQ of 126 and eventually graduated with honors in mathematics.

Dr. Lorber, intrigued by this somewhat paradoxical young man, went off to research whether or not this was a one of a kind anomaly or whether there were others that had suffered this cruel fate, but had otherwise lived a relatively normal life. He went to Washington D.C. and found thousands of subjects with no brains! O.K. That was just too easy to pass up.

In fact, Dr. Lorber found hundreds of subjects with mere millimeters of brain tissue that were absolutely oblivious to their missing gray matter. Some of those subjects had what was described as “no detectable” brain matter whatsoever. Dr. Wall, professor of anatomy at University College in London, stated that there were “scores” of people living normal, everyday lives with little or no discernible brain tissue. It has been reasoned, by Dr. Lorber, Dr. Wall and other researches, that there are so many redundancies built into the brain, that it only takes a minimal amount of actual brain tissue to accomplish all of the fantastic feats that the brain is capable of. The brain, it seems, is much like a municipality's work crews; there is one guy doing the actual work while seven other guys stand around drinking coffee, just in case the guy working gets whacked in the head with a manhole cover, then another worker comes in to finish the job.

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    • JTRyder profile imageAUTHOR

      John Thomas Niswonger 

      4 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

      I have been reading a lot about "split brains" too. It's amazing how little we actually know about ourselves, our brains and the real reasons that we do certain things.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The fact that some people with hydrocephalus do well academically while having only a small amount of brain tissue has fascinated me for a long time. Thinks for sharing the interesting information. We still have a lot to learn about the brain!

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