Bizarre Human Brain With No Folds Discovered
For the purposes of his new book, Adam Voorhes discovered the strangest thing: a human brain with no folds, on the secret shelves at the University of Texas.
David Dexter, scientific director at Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank, told New Scientist that he had never seen something like this.
“We do get the odd individual where certain sulci are missing but nothing to the extent of this brain.”
The lack of grooves (sulci) and folds (gyri) that are normal for a human brain are symptoms of a rare condition called lissencephaly. It is caused by abnormal neuronal migration during embryonic development.
Voorhes spent over a year trying to learn the details of this condition and also found approximately 100 other strange human brains. However, nothing about the specific individual was discovered.
People with similar though less extensive forms of lissencephaly experience difficulty swallowing, muscle spasms, seizures, and learning difficulties. Many die before the age of 10.
All the brains are from patients at the Austin State Mental Hospital and were preserved in jars of formaldehyde. For more than 20 years, the brains stayed hidden in a dark closet in the back of an animal lab. While they are all considered abnormal in one way or another, a brain with so few folds and grooves is a rarity amongst the rare.
Currently, the University of Texas is working on documenting the brains in more detail with an MRI scanner. After the research, the brains will be put on display at the Imaging Research Center on campus.