In The Instrumentality of the Brain, we noted a boy born without a cerebellum — the part of the brain that controls motor skills, balance and emotions — and who “has the MRI of a vegetable”; yet who has learned to walk and interact. He is also missing his pons, the part of the brain stem that controls basic functions, such as sleeping and breathing. And yet he breathes and sleeps just fine.
No brainer: The brain of the patient (left)
compared to a normal MRI scan (right)
Other cases are known, such as the French civil servant, whose brain was virtually absent, reduced to a thin layer around the skull, a condition known as Dandy-Walker syndrome. Pause here for jokes about civil servants. Or Frenchmen. But he functioned more or less normally in society despite having water where his brain should have been.
The British neurologist John Lorber reported on the case of a slightly hydrocephalic math student with an IQ of 126, who also was almost lacking in brains (cf. Is the brain really necessary).
Gee, we don’t understand what we thought we knew? There’s a first….