Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Does the Left Always Know What the Right Is Doing?

I've got to admit that there are many things of which I am totally unaware...sometimes blissfully so; such is the case with a malady called Alien Hand Syndrome. Had I not been reading the BBC news today, I could have gone to my grave ignorant of this amazingly dumbfounding condition...but now I do know, and I'm overjoyed not to be Karen Byrne.
Byrne, 57, of New Jersey had a simple (supposedly) operation completed at age 27 in order to cure her epilepsy from which she had suffered for almost 20 years. Normally, the procedure involves identifying the offending brain section and removing it. However, when that doesn't work, surgeons often cut the corpus callosum (the narrow band that attaches left to right hemisphere in the brain). This band ensures constant communication between left and right. Most of us know that the hemisphere of the left side of the brain controls the right arm and leg as well as language while the right hemisphere controls (obviously) the left side as well as spatial awareness. Apparently, the corpus callosum keeps the two functioning as one with one side overriding the other at appropriate moments. The fact that each has function independent of the other was part of Nobel Prize Winner Roger Sperry's (1981) which became increasingly important to Karen Byrne.
After the second operation, she found that her left hand would do things completely unbidden...such things as unbuttoning her shirt, stubbing out a cigarette she had just set in an ashtray with her right hand, and slapping her own face! Many times, she was completely unaware of the actions since they were not products of conscious muscular contraction. Incredible! Imagine having to keep an eye constantly glued to a certain limb to keep it from doing something unknown and, probably, unwanted!
I'm happy to report that Ms. Byrne's doctors have found a medication that will ease the problem, but what a nightmare.
And now you know something you didn't know about yesterday...probably...I didn't.
Rather makes me want to wear a helmet everywhere.


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