U.D, as referred in the medical literature, is the boy who had 1/3 of his right hemisphere of his brain removed and marked a turning point in the field of neurological science.
What Happened to U.D?
When he was 4 years old, he suffered from continuous seizures that treatments and all kinds and shapes of treatments failed to cure this little boy. As a result, at the age of 7 years old, surgeons were obliged to perform lobectomy whereby part of the right hemisphere of U.D’s occipital lobe and a large part of his parietal lobe was cut-off.
The great news is that, now, U.D is 11 years old and seizure free !
How U.D’s Brain Adapted?
Marlene Behrmann, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University stated that “There are some regions of the visual system that mature early and remain stable overtime”.
She added that neurons can sprout new connections so neurons have the ability to interact in new ways.
U.D, with the loss of his right side of his occipital lobe, which processes sight and vision, is not able to get information from the left side of his surroundings to the remaining vision-processing parts of his brain. It is important to highlight the fact that U.D’s eyes can retrieve light information normally from the left side of our world. Now, since U.D’s processing center of his right hemisphere is absent light information will be lost without U.D knowing exactly that he lacks that information.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, scientists performed many behavioral tests and used the functional magnetic resonance imaging machine to take images of U.D’s brain. Behavioral tests included asking U.D to point at specific objects in jumbled pictures and ensure if he can perceive fine-drawn changes between those pictures.
The surprise was that U.D’s cognition and process of vision matched and functioned the same as other children regardless of the minute loss of light information perceived by his left eye. In the fMRI images, despite the condition that U.D was having, the left hemisphere took action and began functioning what the right hemisphere is not.
The remarkable thing is that our ultimate brain size doesn’t change, and despite this fact, the same size area of the brain (left or right hemisphere) can manage to bring in new tasks without altering its own ability.
Till now, neurologists cannot explain this remarkable thing at the cellular level except by declaring that neurons create new connections.
Not to forget that, U.D’s age might have played as an influential factor regarding his brains’s adaptability. In other words, if an adult had experienced that lobectomy, results might not have been the same as U.D.
Before U.D’s case, there was the famous H.M case. H.M is the famous patient Henry Molaison who redefined our modern neuroscience whereby his memory was lost after a lobectomy.