24-Year-Old Born Without A Cerebellum

MRI scans of the patient's brain show a large hole where the cerebellum should be. (Image: © Feng Yu et al.)

A missing cerebellum is not an absolute anomaly, however, the finding is quite uncommon. What’s more, eight similar cases have been reported till date. However, most cases involve children and adults who present with large structural abnormalities in their brains with severe mental impairment and epilepsy.

A young woman from China spent 24 years of her life without knowing that she was missing an important part of her brain! The shocking discovery was made when she presented to the doctors with complaint of a month’s history of nausea and vomiting. On taking the patient’s history, it was revealed that wasn’t able to walk till she was 4 years of age. Similarly, she had never been able to walk steadily and experienced dizziness all her life.

When the doctors scanned her brain, they found that she was missing a cerebellum!

CT and MRI scans showed no remnants of any cerebellar tissues which verified the complete absence of the cerebellum. The cerebellum is an important part of the brain responsible for coordination and fine movements. Functions also include movements of the mouth and tongue for producing speech. People with a damaged cerebellum often experience difficulties with speech. However, contrary to the expectations of doctors, the Chinese woman only struggles with slurred pronunciations.

According to Dr. Raj Narayan, chair of neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York:

“It shows that the young brain tends to be much more flexible or adaptable to abnormalities. When a person is either born with an abnormality or at a very young age loses a particular part of the brain, the rest of the brain tries to reconnect and to compensate for that loss or absence.”

However, this remarkable ability of our brain declines with age.

“As we get older, the ability of the brain to tolerate damage is much more limited,” Narayan said. “So, for example, in a 60-year-old person, if I took the cerebellum out, they would be severely impaired.”


Extraordinary Brain: Woman’s Missing Cerebellum Went Unnoticed for 24 Years https://www.livescience.com/47802-missing-crucial-brain-part-went-unnoticed.html

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Dr. Aiman Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor’s degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is an experienced freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the health industry. Skilled in general dentistry, she is currently working as an associate dentist at a private dental clinic in Karachi, freelance content writer and as a part time science instructor with Little Medical School. She has also been an ambassador for PDC in the past from the year 2016 – 2018, and her responsibilities included acting as a representative and volunteer for PDC with an intention to make the dental community of Pakistan more connected and to work for benefiting the underprivileged. When she’s not working, you’ll either find her reading or aimlessly walking around for the sake of exploring. Her future plans include getting a master’s degree in maxillofacial and oral surgery, settled in a metropolitan city of North America.


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