A man with an unusually tiny brain manages to live an entirely normal life despite his condition, which was caused by a fluid build-up in his skull.
Scans of the 44-year-old man’s brain showed that a huge fluid-filled chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue (see image, right).
“It is hard for me [to say] exactly the percentage of reduction of the brain, since we did not use software to measure its volume. But visually, it is more than a 50% to 75% reduction,” says Lionel Feuillet, a neurologist at the Mediterranean University in Marseille, France.
Feuillet and his colleagues describe the case of this patient in The Lancet. He is a married father of two children, and works as a civil servant.
The man went to a hospital after he had mild weakness in his left leg. When Feuillet’s staff took his medical history, they learned that, as an infant, he had had a shunt inserted into his head to drain away hydrocephalus – water on the brain.
The shunt was removed when he was 14. But the researchers decided to check the condition of his brain using computed tomography (CT) scanning technology and another type of scan called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They were astonished to see “massive enlargement” of the lateral ventricles – usually tiny chambers that hold the cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain.
Intelligence tests showed the man had an IQ of 75, below the average score of 100 but not considered mentally retarded or disabled.
“The whole brain was reduced – frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes – on both left and right sides. These regions control motion, sensibility, language, vision, audition, and emotional and cognitive functions,” Feuillet told New Scientist.
Today is Saint George’s Day, and all around the world, Englishmen and women are gathering to celebrate their proud cultural heritage. Cue many pints of ale, and the traditional St. George’s Day festivities –
- Re-watching the 1966 World Cup Final – Everyone must say “They think it’s all over – it is now!” at the appropriate moment. Extra kudos can be earned by wearing a Bobby Charlton comb-over wig, or by going to a foreign country en masse, getting blind drunk and fighting with the locals.
- Voting Tory – Two children are chosen, and each must make a speech before the other guests. One is dressed in fine clothes and must talk with a plummy accent of traditional values, the monarchy and a distrust of foreigners. The other is dressed in rags and must mumble about the workers, the welfare state and the Colonies (AKA Scotland, Wales and Ireland) in a northern accent. Then a mock ballot is held, and the loser is ceremonially beaten.
- Saluting George Best – One person (the “George Best”) must drink alcohol until they pass out. Bizarrely, they are then saluted as a hero as they are stretchered into the ambulance.
- A Minute’s Silence for the Queen – The Queen is a German enchantress who has somehow managed to bewitch the English into believing that she is more than human. They give her not only money, but even the lives of their sons. She represents nothing that is progressive, equal or sane, yet grown Englishmen will still weep over their Christmas dinners as she reads a speech written by someone else, without any emotion or theatrical flair.
- Parading the “Frenchman” – Over the preceding weeks, the children (with considerable help from the adults) will have constructed an effigy called a “Frenchman”. At the end of the day, this effigy is paraded around the group, either in a wheelbarrow or simply dragged by the arms. All must hold their noses as though the smell was unbearable. Finally, the Frenchman is set upon by the children, who tear it limb from limb as the adults chant “Agincourt! Agincourt!”
When the fun is over, what else is there to do but to all sit down for the traditional English meal – Chicken Tikka Masala.
I recently sent an piece to Mr. Gustav Temple, editor of the excellent periodical, The Chap. He was not in the least bit interested. But as I was rather proud of it, especially as it is the only piece of food writing I have been happy with, I thought I should publish it here.
Having been a reader of your publication for some time, I resolved to write a piece for consideration. The subject is one which I have often felt is under-represented in your pages – GASTRONOMY. Good food is to the Chap’s
constitution as good grooming is to his appearance, and any chap worth his brogues cannot afford to be ignorant on such an issue.
It is 1,100 words long, including both a sidebar and a recipe section. I do
hope that you find it both edifying and instructive.
Your sinc. ect ect,
David G. Robertson