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A boy who has lost a large part of his brain to a brain tumor has recovered remarkably, the rest of his brain has rewired, researchers reported Tuesday.
Surgeons removed one-third of a whole lobe of Tanner Collin's brain to prevent seizures caused by a benign brain tumor when he was 6 years old. This was the entire visual processing center for his left eye. But the rest of his brain has adapted, the team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh reported in the journal Cell Reports.
Although he's the part of his brain that normally processes facial recognition, Tanner, now 12, says he recognizes people normally.
"I definitely could adapt," Tanner told NBC News. "I can see faces perfectly."
Now Tanner, who lives in New Stanton, Pennsylvania, wants to become a neurosurgeon himself.
This type of brain operation is rare and every patient is different, said Marlene Behrmann, a cognitive scientist working on Tanner's case. With Tanner's normal brain scans, the team watched as his brain got used to losing so much of its visual processing.
"We had an unprecedented understanding of the plasticity at work"