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PITTSBURGH (CBS Local) – Doctors in Pennsylvania say a young boy has almost fully recovered after having a large portion of his brain removed.
The boy, identified as U.D. in the Cell Reports study, suffered a seizure at age 4 and developed epilepsy after that. Doctors found that the child was suffering from a slow-growing tumor that required a third of the right side of his brain to be removed by surgeons.
Three years later, physicians say that the remaining parts of the boy’s brain have compensated for the loss and they declared U.D. has successfully recovered.
“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,” neuroscientist Marlene Behrmann said in the July 31 report.
U.D.’s three-year checkup found that the left side of his brain had taken over for many of the right-side brain functions lost in the surgery.
“His visual behavior is excellent, absolutely normal,” Behrmann said, via Gizmodo. “Even though he only has one visual system, it’s been reconfigured to do the work of both hemispheres.”
Although the boy’s ability to “see” with the right side of his brain has not recovered, Behrmann and her team found that the left hemisphere reorganized itself to handle U.D.’s face recognition skills. The brain’s left side is normally more geared for word recognition tasks, such as knowing whether a round red object you see is an apple or a ball.
U.D. has reportedly been seizure free since the surgery and scores above average on IQ tests, showing that the brain is truly resilient organ.