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Opty
02-13-2011, 04:42 AM
Not sure how many of you out there are neuro-geeks and psych-geeks like me, but I found this story fascinating:

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/12/chase-britton-boy-without-a-cerebellum-baffles-doctors/

Gretad08
02-13-2011, 05:19 AM
I don't know what geek category I fall under, but I definitely find it interesting. Especially because the mother has ultrasound pics with an intact cerebellum, and now it's gone. I love the quote from the mother in which she says they're a happy family and their story isn't tragic.

JoNightshade
02-13-2011, 05:37 AM
What a little cutie and what awesome parents he has! I think he has all the right people rooting for him. I've seen personally how a kid with a very dire diagnosis can defy all the odds, and I love stories like this. Warms my heart.

I do think it's kind of funny if you watch the video how they end with "But will Chase ever be able to live independently?!" Like that's the goal of life... to survive on your own. Yes, let's all be islands, that'll work out well.

Perks
02-13-2011, 05:39 AM
Sweet baby. I hope they learn much from him and I hope the attitude his family seems to exhibit lets him love life.

That's wild.

megoblocks
02-13-2011, 05:42 AM
Things like this remind me of how much of life and the Universe we have no understanding of, as much as we'd like to think otherwise.

Lyra Jean
02-13-2011, 06:31 AM
I love the outlook they have. They must get a lot of support.

Opty
02-13-2011, 06:46 AM
Just when researchers think they know which lobe performs what functions, a boy's brain comes along and says, "Oh yeah? Well I don't need any of that! I can do it this way."

It's an amazing example of the unknown scope of neuroplasticity. Doesn't mean we don't know a lot of what the brain does; but it does seem to illustrate that we don't truly know what it's capable of when backed into a proverbial corner.

leahzero
02-13-2011, 06:54 AM
Interesting. I've read articles that talk about the plasticity of the human brain and how functions can sometimes shift to other areas when there's brain damage.

Looks like this kid is living proof of that.

Go humans!

Project nachonaco
02-13-2011, 11:53 PM
Just sent this to my psych professor.

This whole thing fascinates me...

Many years ago (I think I've shared this story before), my mother and father were talking with a neurosurgeon before I was born. Because the prognosis for myself was not optimal (I have hydrocephalus), they went to one of the top neurosurgeons in the region.

One of the nurses there was telling them about a little boy whose brain had swelled so much they kept having to pull brain matter out because it kept overfilling his skull (sorry for the grotesque description). A few weeks later, the little boy, who was told he would never be able to walk or talk or function normally, was walking out on his own and even thanked the doctors and nurses who helped him.

JoNightshade
02-14-2011, 12:03 AM
Okay if nacho is telling stories I get to tell mine. ;) I went to gradeschool with a profoundly mentally and physically disabled boy (adopted as an older child from India) whose parents were told he would never speak, never be able to drive his own wheelchair, and basically never really do anything but sit and drool. He only had control of his upper right side, so basically one arm and half his face. One year in our class and he was saying our names, words, driving around his own wheelchair, and most of all, laughing. And doing things to make other people laugh! His wonderful, full, deep laugh will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Vegetable my ass.

SPMiller
02-14-2011, 12:42 AM
Just when researchers think they know which lobe performs what functions, a boy's brain comes along and says, "Oh yeah? Well I don't need any of that! I can do it this way."

It's an amazing example of the unknown scope of neuroplasticity. Doesn't mean we don't know a lot of what the brain does; but it does seem to illustrate that we don't truly know what it's capable of when backed into a proverbial corner.Well, we actually do have a pretty good idea which general regions of the brain are responsible for which tasks, but that only applies to "normal" brains. Young individuals can get by reasonably well with a lot of damage or missing regions. Not necessarily true of older ones.

Cranky
02-14-2011, 01:59 AM
What a little cutie and what awesome parents he has! I think he has all the right people rooting for him. I've seen personally how a kid with a very dire diagnosis can defy all the odds, and I love stories like this. Warms my heart.

I do think it's kind of funny if you watch the video how they end with "But will Chase ever be able to live independently?!" Like that's the goal of life... to survive on your own. Yes, let's all be islands, that'll work out well.

I didn't watch the video (read the article, though), but speaking as someone who does worry about my son's future independence -- it's not about being an island unto oneself -- I worry because after we're (his parents) gone ... who will take care of him? The more independent he is, and the less he has to rely on others, the better. Because if he can look after himself to whatever degree, there's less room for abuse and exploitation by people who are negligent or even malicious. And it's rather unfair to expect his brothers to take on his care if he needs round-the-clock supervision, etc.

It's not an unreasonable goal to try for as much independence as possible when you look at it from that angle.

That said, and more on topic -- what a frankly amazing story! Chase and his family seem like really awesome people. And I wonder what kind of implications this has for further research. Brain plasticity, sure. And the capabilities of the brain in general. Fascinating stuff!

Opty
02-14-2011, 03:57 AM
Well, we actually do have a pretty good idea which general regions of the brain are responsible for which tasks, but that only applies to "normal" brains. Young individuals can get by reasonably well with a lot of damage or missing regions. Not necessarily true of older ones.
I know. In fact, adult brains seem to be more plastic/adaptable than once thought. (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/brain-remodel-1124.html)

However, the boy's case is unique in the respect that, generally, in cases of extreme brain plasticity and adaptation from damage, functions tend to shift from one hemisphere of the cerebral cortex / forebrain to the other. The cerebellum and pons (which control a host of processes such as respiration, coordination, eye movement, etc.) are not a part of the cortex. The cerebellum has lobes but not necessarily in the same way that the forebrain has complementary, hemispherical lobes.

In this boy's case, it's not that these structures are damaged on one side and their functions have shifted to their other hemisphere, they're simply not there at all (as far as can be seen). The entire structure of the cerebellum is non-existent (at least visually). They were there in the womb and then, well, "disappeared."

That's what, to me, makes this case fascinating. Hindbrain functions have completely shifted to the forebrain (at least, seemingly). It'd be like if you were born without a liver but somehow one of your kidneys performed all of the missing liver's functions. Well, not exactly, but you get my point.

Perks
02-14-2011, 04:03 AM
Since the pons and cerebellum were there in embryonic development, mightn't the tissue, along with some of its function, been sort of absorbed?

I don't suppose they'll know all they can know until the little guy is all done using his brain and they can study it up close.

JoNightshade
02-14-2011, 04:14 AM
I didn't watch the video (read the article, though), but speaking as someone who does worry about my son's future independence -- it's not about being an island unto oneself -- I worry because after we're (his parents) gone ... who will take care of him? The more independent he is, and the less he has to rely on others, the better. Because if he can look after himself to whatever degree, there's less room for abuse and exploitation by people who are negligent or even malicious. And it's rather unfair to expect his brothers to take on his care if he needs round-the-clock supervision, etc.

It's not an unreasonable goal to try for as much independence as possible when you look at it from that angle.

Yes, I totally get this, but that's not how the video struck me at all. It was just this weird thing they stuck on the end. Like they were trying to make it more... I dunno, gripping or something by leaving a "cliffhanger." I think it's pretty obvious this kid is never going to achieve a fully independent life, and asking that question struck me as insensitive, rude, and beside the point.

Cranky
02-14-2011, 05:05 AM
Yes, I totally get this, but that's not how the video struck me at all. It was just this weird thing they stuck on the end. Like they were trying to make it more... I dunno, gripping or something by leaving a "cliffhanger." I think it's pretty obvious this kid is never going to achieve a fully independent life, and asking that question struck me as insensitive, rude, and beside the point.

And that's what I get for not watching the video, ha. :) Gotcha.

Kateness
02-14-2011, 05:11 AM
But what's really weird is that his fetal ultrasounds show that he had a cerebellum and pons

GeorgeK
02-15-2011, 08:37 AM
Neurofizz would be the one around here to ask (AFAIK) however I've heard of cases of absent cerebellum and usually delayed coordination but ultimately within normal ranges thanks to being young and functional plasticity. I've not however heard of an absent pons. I would have thought that incompatible with life.

TerzaRima
02-15-2011, 09:18 AM
I see many a kid with cerebellar hypoplasia, which means that the cerebellum is underdeveloped. Generally this finding is associated with at least some degree of developmental delay, although there certainly is a selection bias if you're showing up in my department and someone has ordered a head MRI so that we know about the cerebellar problem. Like George, I have never heard of congenital absence of the pons.

kaitie
02-15-2011, 09:26 AM
What an amazing story. I was almost afraid to click at first, but that was fantastic.

defcon6000
02-15-2011, 12:25 PM
Well, we actually do have a pretty good idea which general regions of the brain are responsible for which tasks, but that only applies to "normal" brains. Young individuals can get by reasonably well with a lot of damage or missing regions. Not necessarily true of older ones.
I worked with a grad student whose project was about retraining people's brain to see symbols that they would have been blind to due to synaptic pruning. So you never know, the brain is a very flexible thing.

maggi90w1
02-15-2011, 02:13 PM
But what's really weird is that his fetal ultrasounds show that he had a cerebellum and pons
Very strange. Where did it went? Maybe some kind of autoimmune disease that attacked the brain?

Monkey
02-15-2011, 06:49 PM
My hypothesis is that the baby's cerebellum and pons were--for whatever reason--deemed not biologically useful to the body, and therefore absorbed.

A monkey's best guess, quite possible wrong.