MOST people know that you can survive without your appendix, spleen or a kidney when push comes to shove.
But now it turns out you can even live without half a brain.
Incredible new scans from six patients reveal how people are still able to function fully without half a brain.
Each of the individuals had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce severe epileptic seizures.
And their scans have now shown how the brain can miraculously rewire itself to help the body to function as if the brain were intact.
In particular, the case study, which appears in the journal Cell Reports, revealed that the brain makes unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks.
And medics have now revealed their shock at just how able patients with half a brain are.
Author of the study Dorit Kliemann, a post-doc at the California Institute of Technology, said: “The people with hemispherectomies that we studied were remarkably high functioning.
“They have intact language skills; when I put them in the scanner we made small talk, just like the hundreds of other individuals I have scanned.
“You can almost forget their condition when you meet them for the first time.
“When I sit in front of the computer and see these MRI images showing only half a brain, I still marvel that the images are coming from the same human being who I just saw talking and walking and who has chosen to devote his or her time to research.”
You can almost forget their condition when you meet them for the first timeDorit Kliemann, doctor at the California Institute of Technology
All six of the participants were in their 20s and early 30s during the study, but they ranged from three months old to 11 years old at the time of when they had half their brain removed.
The wide range of ages at which they had the surgeries allowed the researchers to home in on how the brain reorganises itself when injured.
Doctors had thought the scans would find weaker connections within particular networks in people with only one hemisphere.
However, they found surprisingly normal global connectivity – and stronger connections between different networks.
Researchers are now hoping to expand their study in order to find out more about how the brain develops and organises itself in individuals with brain abnormalities.
Dr Kliemann added: “As remarkable as it is that there are individuals who can live with half a brain, sometimes a very small brain lesion like a stroke or a traumatic brain injury like a bicycle accident or a tumour can have devastating effects.
“We’re trying to understand the principles of brain reorganisation that can lead to compensation.
“Maybe down the line, that work can inform targeted intervention strategies and different outcome scenarios to help more people with brain injuries.”
It comes after we revealed one mum was forced to let surgeons remove half her son’s brain to save his life after chicken pox triggered a devastating stroke.
Kayan Blake, now eight, has now learnt to walk and talk again following the major surgery.