Are brains necessary?

F. Frank LeFever flefever at
Thu Mar 27 23:23:40 EST 1997

In <y5hdmc7$9ls$1 at oravannahka.Helsinki.FI> Dag Stenberg
<stenberg at cc.Helsinki.FI> writes: 
>Dag Stenberg <stenberg at cc.Helsinki.FI> wrote:
>> DrGG4 <drgg4 at> wrote:
>> > I wonder who here is familiar with John Lorber's studies of people
>> > virtually no brains? Fully functioning adults with little more
than a
>> > millimeter of cortex

This sounds truly  remarkable until you realize tht this is the normal
thickness of cortex, in both rats and men (and women)..

Frank LeFever
New York Neuropsychology Group

 and nothing other than huge ventricles beneath that.

"Nothing other" is of course a figure of speech.  The cortex
communicates with the outside world (including the rest of the body)
through long fiber tracts (internal capsule, optic radiations, etc.)
and subcortical relay stations (e.g. thalamus), and records its
communications by way of the (subcortical) hippocampus, etc., etc.

Cut off, floating freely on the waves, the cortex would be deaf, blind,
dumb--unable to make small talk and  impress the neurologist with its

Another responder (from NZ?) suggested neuropsych tests might disclose
deficits. It is well-known that even milder degrees of hydrocephally
may produce people capable of "cocktail party" speech--superficially
saying something, but without much substance.  Various visual-spatial
abilities are often impaired as well, a fact not often noticed in
clinical interviews...

Frank LeFever
New York Neuropsychology Group

>> > How can this be possible? And why hasn't this attracted any
attention in
>> > the neuroscience community?
>> As I recall this, there was one (1) case with atrophied brain, ...
>And I was wrong, because there were 600 CT scans on hydrocephalus
>patients, although one case was given as an example in the Science
>commentary by Roger Lewin (Science 210:1232-1234, 1980).
>Dag Stenberg

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