reported in the journal, The Lancet, a man has
been found who had a
small brain, but a normal life. The article is subscription
only so I am not even going to link to it. But it is still
There is a fair summary in the online version of Der
Spiegel, and it is even in English. It
describes the case of a 44-year-old man employed in a tax office.
He was married, father of two, holding down a job, seemingly
In 2003 he noticed some weakness in his left leg.
He ultimately was seen by Dr Lionel Feuillet of the
Universite de la Mediterranee in Marseille, France.
Upon evaluation, he did reveal that, as a child, he had been told he
was placed to drain the fluid. He was doing
fine, and at age 14 the shunt was removed. That would have
been around 1973, so CAT
scans and MRIs
would not have been available.
Of course, by 2003, detailed brain imagining studies had become
routine. The physicians were astonished at what they saw.
With more evaluation, he was found to have an IQ of 75.
Significantly below aerage, but adequate for what he had to
Below is a drawing (from Gray’s Anatomy) showing what the
ventricular system in the brain is supposed to look
like. Notice in particular the size of the lateral
ventricles. It is not terribly clear in this line drawing,
but the ventricles are fluid-filled cavities in the middle of the
three-dimentional view is a bit easier to grasp with the MRI
This is copied from Der Spiegel. The
patient is looking to the left. The eye socket is the white
circle on the left. The LV label indicates the lateral
For comparison, here are three different views of a normal brain:
of the news reports quipped.
“size isn’t everything.”
Update: Cognitve Daily has a nice discussion of this phenomenon.