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Half a brain, near perfect vision

21st July 2009

Scientists from Glasgow University have explained how a girl born without the right side of her brain is able to see almost perfectly using one eye.

Eye2

The team reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Scientists had previously been unable to work out how the 10-year-old was able to see, because the right side of the brain is responsible for the left-hand visual field.

Scans showed that the girl's brain rerouted itself when she was a foetus to compensate for the lack of the right part of the brain.

She is able to see both left and right visual fields from one eye as the nerves which should have been routed to the right side of the brain were redirected.

She was found to have half a brain when she had seizures at the age of three and was given an MRI scan.

The seizures were treated and the girl has not had any serious medical problems since.

Dr Lars Muckli, of the university's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, who worked in conjunction with a German team from Frankfurt, said: "The brain has amazing plasticity but we were quite astonished to see just how well the single hemisphere of the brain in this girl has adapted to compensate for the missing half."

"Despite lacking one hemisphere, the girl has normal psychological function and is perfectly capable of living a normal and fulfilling life."

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