The most interesting part about many neuroscience cases is that they often lead to previously unknown knowledge about the brain. Sometimes a disease or symptom offers clues that expand our understanding of the human mind.
Many of these neuroscientific cases are notable for the patient’s unique symptoms. The lives of people affected by these unusual circumstances are often strange and fascinating. However, the really valuable conclusion is that you can see the human brain functioning in a way that no one has seen before.
The scientific world considers neurologist Oliver Sacks one of the most important teachers of our time. While his storytelling style and the extraordinary stories he has about patients may sometimes seem like science fiction, they are all true. Today we share three of these fascinating cases.
Three interesting neuroscience cases
This is one of the most fascinating cases. The patient was a woman in her 80s who had a unique experience in 1979. She was in good health and had fully functioning mental faculties. However, she had hearing problems.
One night she dreamed of her childhood in Ireland. In the dream she heard the music from her past, the traditional songs and typical way of dancing. When she woke up, the music was still in her head.
She thought there was a radio on or someone playing a recording, even though no one was there. She could hear all the musical notes perfectly, at a volume high enough to distract her from other things.
Before doctors could perform a brain scan, the music started to disappear. It had been playing in her brain for months by then. Everything seemed to point to a problem in the temporal lobe associated with feelings of nostalgia.
This case suggests that some areas of the brain store all the experiences of your past, as if they were indestructible files.
2. The Madeline case
Madeline was a 60-year-old woman with congenital blindness. That means she was born blind and had never seen anything with her own eyes. She also had cerebral palsy and suffered from involuntary hand movements. With all these conditions, you would expect her to have severe cognitive delays, but Madeline was a very intelligent woman.
The people around her often read to her. As a result, she was cultivated and a great interlocutor. She had never learned to read Braille, because in her words her hands were “useless, godforsaken lumps of dough.” She said she didn’t even experience her hands as part of her body.
Despite what she believed herself, Madeline’s hands were basically normal. For some reason they didn’t move well. Oliver Sacks theorized that because her family really did everything for her, she lost the use of her limbs. So he started a rehabilitation program with her. At the end of the treatment, Madeline became a sculptor.
3. The Man Who Fell Out of Bed
This neuroscientific case is about a strange condition called autotopagnosia, which is characterized by an inability to recognize your own body parts.
A young man in a hospital had a strange experience. He saw a leg on his bed that he said didn’t belong to him, so he tried to pick it up and throw it off the bed. When he did, he fell out of bed.
The young man was terrified by the experience. For some reason he believed his left leg had been amputated from his body and so the leg on the bed couldn’t possibly have been his.
The leg scared him. Medical experts questioned him, and because he couldn’t tell anyone where his real leg was, he kept hitting himself and trying to get rid of the leg.
Unfortunately, this case has yet to be resolved. Although there are many similar cases in books, no one knows the cause of the problem or how to help people with this condition.