A woman in China's Shandong Province lived to the ripe old age of 24 while missing a giant chunk of brain goo. She checked into a hospital with complaints of dizziness and nausea, and checked out with the knowledge that there was a piece of her brain actually missing. What?
The woman joins a select group of less than ten people (possible supervillains) who have survived without their entire cerebellum. According to New Scientist (and that Intro to Psych lecture you are just now vaguely remembering), the cerebellum "represents about 10 per cent of the brain's total volume but contains 50 per cent of its neurons." That is a whole lot of neurons. That is roughly 43 billion neurons, if this study about turning brains into "soup" from 2012 can be believed. (You should check out that article because Dr Suzana Herculano-Houzel felt really bad about liquefying human brains and you reading her research will probably lighten her emotional load.)
It makes sense that the woman was suffering from nausea, dizziness and reported that she suffered speech and has problems with movement when she was a child. The cerebellum's most important part is "to control voluntary movement and balance" and considering that this woman only suffered minor issue is astounding, because problems in that area of the brain can lead to severe physical and mental impairment. And death. According to New Scientist, one of the reasons this woman's case is so special is that most people missing their cerebellum die young and the missing brain structure is only found in an autopsy.
While the fact that this particular person is still living is a testament to how amazing and powerful the brain is (according to the brain, which is kind of a narcissist) (Uh-oh,here comes an aneurysm), it must be awful to know that there's a part of it missing and that no one can do anything about it. I guess the fact that you will go down in medical journals is worth it? Maybe? (Probably not.) (But thank you for contributing to science.)
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