Can You Live With Only Half Of Your Brain?


People often ask me, “Julian, just how much
of your brain can you live without?” But they always say it in kind of a mean way. Hello people with brains, probably, Julian
here for DNews! Imagine this scenario: the zombies are coming and they want what any
zombie wants. Your brains. If you had to give up some of your brain to distract them while
you make your escape like a lizard losing its tail, what could you actually afford to
chuck at the moaning hoard? Definitely not the brainstem, that’s for
sure. That little bit at the top of your spine controls your heart, lungs and blood pressure.
Injuries to it are extremely serious. There is actually a case of a boy who lived for
12 years with nothing but a brainstem. Trevor Waltrip was born in 2001 with a condition
called hydranencephaly. He was blind and couldn’t speak, had to eat with a feeding tube and
have therapists stimulate his muscles and joints. But he lived. He was a rare case,
but demonstrates that if you want to be alive, you better at least have a brain stem. If you have more brain to work with, losing
parts of it aren’t as severe because of the brain’s ability to rewire itself. People
have lived mostly normal lives with large bits of brain totally absent. Like a woman
in China, who was born without a cerebellum, the little cauliflower looking bit at the
back of your brain that controls voluntary movement. She started walking and talking
late, but still didn’t even know part of her brain was nonexistent until she was 24
and went into a hospital complaining of nausea and dizziness. She’s one of nine people
to have lived without a cerebellum… that we know about. Don’t forget that your brain doesn’t just
control your body, it’s also responsible for who you are as a person. Take the famous
case of Phineas Gage, a railroad worker in 1848 who had a 43 inch long (109.22 cm) iron
spike shoot through his skull. He was using the inch and a quarter wide (3.175 cm) death-javelin
to pack dynamite into a hole because apparently safety wasn’t invented until the 1950s.
When the totally predictable happened, he was left with a hole through his left cheek
and out the top of his head, the tamping iron had bored a hole clear through parts of his
frontal lobe. He survived, but the accident… changed him. He was more impulsive and profane
because the part of his brain responsible for executive functions like planning and
response inhibition were suddenly feeling a bit drafty. He lived for another 11 years
but died after a series of seizures. But these are just bits and pieces. You want
to know just how much of your brain you can do without, right? You could live a nearly
normal life with about half less brain, according to the late John Freeman, a neurosurgeon at
Johns Hopkins University. In fact, some people are even better off with half a brain! An
anatomical hemispherectomy, which is exactly what it sounds like, is used in cases where
people suffer from frequent seizures that are not responsive to medication and originate
in one side of the brain. If left untreated, the seizures could cause damage that spreads
to the other side, so sometimes the best option is to take the hemisphere out entirely and
let the void fill with cerebrospinal fluid. Usually the procedure is done on children
between the ages of 5 and 10, and amazingly their memory and personality develop normally.
In fact, many even improve academically. There are downsides: patients lose the use of the
hand and visual field opposite of whichever hemisphere was removed. The left hemisphere
also handles language, so if it’s taken out the right brain has to take on those functions
and patients may have trouble with their speech. Otherwise though, you’d never know half
their head was empty. Don’t misunderstand me, you can’t just
go around banging your head into table corners and be totally fine. But if something does
happen, at least you know you’re brain’s a pretty amazing thing and it’s got your
back… Literally… It’s connected to the spinal cord. Obviously you’re here because you care about
your brain and want to nourish it with interesting facts. But how do you nourish it with nourishment?
Julia covers the best way to feed your brain here. So, back to that zombie scenario: what part
of your brain would you give up to stay alive? Motor functions, vision, personality? Let
us know in the comments. Or if you’ve a person whose brain works in an unusual way,
we’d love to hear about that too. Subscribe for more and I’ll see you next time on DNews.

100 thoughts on “Can You Live With Only Half Of Your Brain?

  1. In regard to Phineas Gage, it should be noted that much of the damage to his brain was not the direct result of the injury caused by the tamping rod itself, but rather from the massive infection that followed, and almost killed him. While the damage caused by the tamping rod was limited to his left frontal lobe, the infection would likely have damaged much more of the surrounding tissue, including important nearby structures, such as the pituitary and the hypothalamus.

    Also …

    The physician tending Gage recorded that he blew a fairly large chunk of his brain out through his wound during a coughing fit at one point. (!)

  2. if possible could you make a video about whether or not cholesterol is good for the body or bad for the body? should I be trying to lower it or gain it. it's common knowledge that it's bad but I have seen a couple of videos explaining why it's GOOD for you and can help you live longer… 😢 maybe you smarties can help me get to the bottom of this. thanks you all are great by the way.

  3. Yes. Ben Carson can take care it for you. He had to do it for a 3-year-old girl with constant seizures. Is that in the vid?

  4. I'm visually impaired, so I would give them the part of my brain that deals with vision. I've already learned to adapt to living with limited vision, so learning to live with no vision at all wouldn't be as hard for me as it would be for other people.

  5. Short answer:

    Hell yes. Otherwise, how would all the ppl with Rasmussen's encephalitis be alive 2day? With half a brain?

  6. I hate the idea of zombies only eating uninflected brains it makes them sound like a childish story book monster, let's go with dead islands' interpretation of zombies, pure morbid fascination!

  7. My unusual brain function… I can spell any word backwards without thinking much..its almost spontaneous. don't know why and how? glad if you help explain 🙂

  8. i know for a fact you can live with half a brain….. my mom had brain caner and they removed almost half of her brain and she lived, well for a few weeks any way.

  9. There's a girl who has only have a brain cause it had to be removed when she was 3 due to seizures and since she was so young it was able to relearn with only half. She was only paralyzed on one half for only a few months. Now she's just a typical kid.

  10. When i was in my teenage years I was a "math person" when I was eighteen I desroyed a large chunk of my left frontal lobe. In the years to come (although I still enjoy math) I noticed that I think in more of an abstract way. Even my math reasoning tends to be more abstract. this is very intersesting to me. And ever since the injury I have been fascinated by neuroscience.

  11. "You cant Just go around hitting your head on table corners"ahh come on what am i going to be doing now when im bored

  12. Who else wanted to go back as far as possible in dnews's video uploads and could only make it this far

  13. I had a stroke when I was a few days old, and lost the entire right hemisphere of my brain, but I recently had an mri done and the lost hemisphere of my brain is intact. Though my family did ask for divine entervention so….

  14. My neighbor lives with half of her brain and she's doing amazing. She's in high school, playing tennis she also had a job at her pool this summer. I made a video with her and her sister called the egg roulette challenge. Check it out and see for yourself and see how far she's come.

  15. As we know there is the logical side of your brain and your creative side. If you live without your logical side then basically you can be deceived by thinking if you jump off a building you fly or anything like that without logic you're dead

  16. had a stroke and lost about 30% of brain function all on the right side so I will give the zombies other peoples brains thank you.

  17. My granddad had a stroke. He is now at a nursey home with tje right side of the brain only functioning. He recognizes people. Understands. But cannot talk. You can really see how frustated he is.

  18. If the zombie apocalypse happend I’d give up the dead part of my brain. It doesn’t work anyway so I don’t loose anything.

  19. I watched this exact thing on House MD a couple of days ago.The brain is amazing at being able to rewire itself

  20. Does severing the brain stem really kill you immediately or does it just "disconnect" your brain from the rest of your body while your brain remains active for a few minutes?

  21. It is only an assumption that we think with the brain , we think with our minds which are in our souls

    Which is how ghosts can still think and communicate with us from 4th dimension spirit world

  22. I have lived with half a brain since I was 16 year old I’m now in my 30’s I can drive, So u can live with half a brain,

  23. There was a french man in 2007 who lived with his entire brain in complete shambles. His brain scan showed like 10x worse damage as terminal Alzheimer's patients do.

  24. Yes I'm playing on a 15 man team right now and only one of them even has half a brain. Clearly you can survive with no brain at all.

  25. I would give up my personality in the events you need motor functions and eyesight for the Apocalypse it self

  26. I challenge you all at telling me a crucial ? what sparks the so called voice or "thoughts to form in your head also why do people say you are what you eat and lastly what can make the eye to become tainted by light please be careful and just think please don't watch or test your eyes it will need to be a bit dead to past the test while your other eye is shut one last challenge is the eyes part of the brain or easily said how many senses does the head have compared to the body yeah i am being a bit of a insane expert just try your best ok and have fun gtg bye

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