An 18 year old girl who was born with only half a brain has demonstrated the amazing flexibility of the human brain by scoring above average in IQ and reading tests and is now applying to universities , according to a report in the New Scientist.
The teen has been diagnosed with hemi-hydranencephaly, an extremely rare medical condition in which a large part of the brain’s cortex is missing. Only nine cases have ever been reported.
In her case, at birth the entire left hemisphere of her brain was missing, This is the side that is typically specialised for language and reading. A brain scan at 10 months old revealed there was a sac of fluid where her left hemisphere should have been.
The girl, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has been studied her whole life by researchers at the University of Chicago. Their brain scans have revealed that over the years many of the functions of the missing side of her brain have been taken up by the remaining right side of her brain. So that now she has more of the brain tissue involved in reading than the average person.
This compensation and adaptation took place in the early year of her life. As a toddler her language skills were way below average but by the age of 5 she had caught up with her peers. And by age seven her reading skills were in the ”superior range”, according to researcher Salomi Asaridou.