Can You Live with Half a Brain?

In the vast symphony of the human brain, where neurons dance like maestros orchestrating a complex melody, there exists a remarkable phenomenon – living with only half the ensemble. Imagine a brain, not as a unified orchestra, but a soloist, half its composition mysteriously absent. Intrigued? Let’s dive into the captivating world of individuals who, against the odds, continue their life’s symphony with just one hemisphere.

The Unlikely Pioneers

These individuals weren’t born this way. Their journey into the world of cerebral asymmetry often began with childhood diseases, like Rasmussen’s encephalitis, where epileptic storms ravaged their neural landscapes. Imagine the brain as a battleground of lightning storms, each seizure a tempest wreaking havoc. For some, conventional treatments failed, leading to an extraordinary solution – hemispherectomy, the removal of a hemisphere, a radical operation akin to tuning out half the orchestra.

In a recent study by Kliemann et al. (2019), six intrepid souls who underwent this unique procedure had their brains scrutinized. What emerged from the neurological mist was astounding – a brain rewired, a harmony sustained with half the instruments.


Rasmussen’s encephalitis (RE) is a very rare, chronic inflammatory neurological disease that usually affects only one hemisphere (half) of the brain. It most often occurs in children under the age of 10 but can also affect adolescents and adults. #rasmussensencephalitis #hemispherectomy #neurosurgery #inthenews #doctorexplains #pediatrics #seizure #epilepsy

♬ original sound – Ladyspinedoc⚡️ | Dr. Grunch 🧠


The Dance of Connectivity

The brain, an intricate dance of networks regulating vision, movement, emotions, and thought, adapts with a grace that defies expectation. In a mesmerizing exploration of functional MRI scans, the researchers discovered that these individuals showcased not just survival but thriving. Their neural networks, like seasoned partners in a grand ballroom, exhibited connectivity beyond the ordinary. This unexpected waltz of connectivity between regions not traditionally associated left spectators in awe.

Curiously, the speech domain, typically residing in the left hemisphere, pirouetted to the right after the surgery. A cerebral ballet, where language gracefully leapt across hemispheric stages, showcasing the brain’s resilience and adaptability.


A hemispherectomy is a rare neurosurgical procedure involving the removal or disconnection of one cerebral hemisphere, typically performed to treat severe and uncontrollable epilepsy. It’s most effective in children, as their neural plasticity allows the remaining hemisphere to take over many functions of the removed or disabled one. Despite its drastic nature, the procedure can significantly reduce seizure frequency and severity, and improve quality of life. #epilepsy #seizure #brainsurgery #medical #againstallodds

♬ original sound – Dr. Joe, M.D. 🩺

A Stroke of Fate

As we venture into real-life stories, consider Ozzy, the exuberant 7-year-old who defied the odds after a neonatal stroke obliterated 85% of his left hemisphere. Imagine the resilience of a brain adapting to a symphony interrupted by a stroke, rerouting its melodies to ensure the show went on. For Ozzy, the hemispherotomy, akin to a conductor silencing one section of the orchestra, brought relief from relentless seizures.

The intricate ballet of brain surgery unfolds, not just as a medical marvel, but as a narrative of hope. Ozzy’s journey, marked by a tapeworm’s unexpected sojourn and rhythmic convulsions, leads to a new chapter – a seizure-free life.

The Symphony Continues

In the grand opera of neuroplasticity, where the brain is not a fixed script but an evolving composition, these tales echo resilience, adaptation, and the miraculous artistry of the human mind. As we delve into the mysteries of neurobiology, we unravel a narrative where half a brain becomes a testament to the brain’s ability to rewrite its score and continue the symphony of life.

So, can you live with half a brain? The resounding answer from these extraordinary tales is not only “yes” but a resounding crescendo – “thriving.”