Re: whale brains

Lloyd Jacobs (
Sat, 25 Nov 1995 10:37:23 GMT

H. M. Hubey ( wrote:
: > It is truely frustrating to try to identify the tact that Hubey is trying
: >to take on this subject. He seems to have some type of agenda, but it
: >escapes me.

: The agenda is clear. It's to impart common sense.

: Tell me do you have an up-down meter with which you can tell if
: the apples fall up or down? Did Newton?

: How did the thermometer get invented. Did the martians tell
: Fahrenheit that when the fluid in the bulb goes up, it means that
: it's getting hotter or did he just know it? how did he know it?
: did he just feel it? did he sweat?

: how do you know what is further away? do you carry a ruler with
: you in your pocket?

: Are you getting any common sense yet?

: This is the part they forget to tell you when you read about
: the scientific method and how it's done.

This article originally appeared in Science Digest, October 1983 (vol. 91 No.

"Anatomy textbooks contain detailed maps of "normal" human brain function.
Sight, we are told, resides in one region, hearing in another. But one
fascinating patient who was referred to the eminent British neurologist
John Lorber demonstrates that there are exceptions to every rule.
Lorber, who specializes in birth defects caused by fluid buildup within the
interior of the brain, tells of a 26 year-old man referred to him for
a brain scan. Ordinarily, the walls of the cerebrum are 45 millimeters
thick. This man's cerebrum had been squashed by fluid
pressure--a condition known as hydrocephalus--to a thickness of less
than one millimeter.

That Lorber's patient was alive at all seems incredible. But he
was socially normal, had an IQ of 126 and had earned a first class
honors degree in mathematics. His relative lack of gray matter had not
apparently affected his intelligence. How could this possibly be?
If the way the brain functions is similar to the way a hologram
functions, that one-millimeter sliver might suffice. Certain holograms
can be smashed to bits, and each remaining piece can reproduce the whole
message. A tiny fragment of this page, in contrast, tells little about
the whole story. Observations such as Lorber's suggest that input-output
functions of different parts of the brain can be shifted and that there's a
great deal of functional plasticity in it. Indeed, in recent years,
plasticity has become a major topic among neuroscientists. That valid maps
exist at all--and they do--suggests that there is a strong tendency as
we mature for certain regions to assume particular chores. But that a
brain one millimeter thick functions as well as its 45-millimeter
counterpart illustrates that these tendencies are not etched in stone.

Another article:

So far some 70 individuals between 5 and 18 years of age were
found to have gross or extreme hydrocephalus with virtually no
neopallium who are, nevertheless, intellectually and physically
normal, several of whom may be considered brilliant. The most
striking example is a young man of 21 with congenital
hydrocephalus for which he had no treatment, who gained a
university degreee in economics and computer studies with
first class honours, with an apparent absence of neopallium.
There are individuals with IQs of over 130 who in infancy had
virtually no brain and some who even in early adult life have
very little neopallium" (J. Lorber, "Is your brain really
Archives of Disease in Childhood 53 (10): 834FF, 1978).