Saturday, December 20, 2014

ACC, not just "missing wires" but REwired...

As it turns out, those of us born without a corpus callosum are informing researchers on aspects of autism spectrum disorder.  Not all of us with cACC would qualify for an ASD diagnoses, but many do.  Groups such as the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative have discovered some fascinating things, which I have known intuitively all of my life.

It used to be though that those with a collosul disorder simply had wires missing, and that otherwise we were like NTs.  It has been observed that this is not the case. What the SFARI discovered was that our brains are actually rewired, with the "wiring" we do have.  In light of neuroscience this actually makes quite a bit of sense.  We know that the human brain, continues to grow, neurons continue to migrate and make new connections, sever old connection well into our mid-twenties.

The brain, it is also widely known now, is an adaptive organ.  This isn't the 70s where, when I grew up it was thought you were "born with so many brain cells, and if they die, tough luck."  Studies as the ARI and Dr Paul's Corpus Callosum Research Program, are studying just how plastic the brain truly is.

For an example, I have been through neuro-psychiatric testing several times.  There is what is called "interhemispheric tranfer."  This means the passing of information from the left to right or right to left lobes of the brain, through the corpus callosum or the much smaller anterior commissure.  Theoretically it should be impossible for me to do this, as I do not have either of these neuron bridges between my right and left lobes...Yet it has been observed that have do have some.  This is a clear example of the brain rewiring itself.  Now, that being said, in my testing it was observed that I had some IT (interhemispheric transfer), but faltingly, and very slowly, and the the more pressure put on me, the less I was able to do so.  Still, it is astounding that I can do it at all.

Yet, even as the brain is able to "rewire" itself, the most functional of individuals with cACC are still seen to have subtle language and social issues.  The most obvious one is meta-linguistics or secondary meaning of words; inferences.

While I can appreciate and even initiate irony and inference, and the non-literal meaning of language, particularly in it's written form, it was observed that in spoken language I do so inconsistently.  I have known this all of my life, but only in these recent years have been able to express it, thanks to learning about my congenital defect and my autism.

I think about the strange and amazing wiring of Kim Peek the real "Rain Man" that the movie was written about, who was born with cACC as I am, and his magical gifts..

The ideas that the SFARI study bring up are intriguing to me.  The entire concept of brain plasticity infers that the brains of us with pACC and cACC might someday be coaxed to adapt and learn and grow in a way that improves our life's outcomes.  I am grateful to participate in the Corpus Callosum Research Program, and will be studied next month.  While this will largely improve my personal insight into my condition, I know the research will have a profound impact on future generations.

As I undergo the study next month, you will hear much more about it, I'll be sure to include copious amounts of blogging on the subject.

Till then!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment