Half a Brain is Enough: The Story of Nico

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Overview

Half a Brain is Enough is the extraordinary story of Nico, a three-year-old boy who was given a right hemispherectomy to control his severe intractable epilepsy. Antonio Battro, a distinguished neuroscientist and educationalist, describes his work with Nico over several years and explains how a boy with only half a brain has developed into a bright child with relatively minor physical and mental impairment. Eight years later, he runs and plays with only a slight limp. So far, there is no significant cognitive or affective disorder and it appears that Nico's so-called right-hemisphere skills—mathematics, visual arts, and music—have migrated to the left hemisphere. At school, he performs as a child of his age in arithmetic and music; only his draftsmanship and handwriting are poor for his age, but he has not lost his cognitive spatial ability. Battro and his colleagues have been studying and teaching Nico with computers and he is mastering written language with a word processor and is able to make good graphic designs with a computer. Nico performs well above average verbally, a left-brain skill. Battro charts what he calls Nico's "neuroeducation" with humor and compassion in a book that is part case history and part a study of consciousness and the brain. Filled with fascinating details about Nico's abilities, Half a Brain is Enough also includes the latest information about brain surgery, neuronal architecture, and the use of technology in education. Throughout the book, it is clear that Battro and his collleagues are delighted with Nico's progress and grateful for the opportunity to help him and learn with him. Antonio Battro received his MD from the School of Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires and his PhD in Psychology from the University of Paris. He has worked with Jean Piaget, Marvin Minsky, and others and is well known around the world for his publications in cognitive development. He lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a short book for a long personal story about the brain, the mind and education....One day a five-year-old boy came to our laboratory to be introduced to the new digital environment of computers and networks. This book is about Nico, an exceptional child who, two years before our meeting, had been subjected to a right hemispherectomy because of severe and intractable epilepsy. There are about one hundred people in the world with this condition, but every one is unique. This particular boy became my friend and my pupil, started school successfully and is now enjoying the expanding new world of knowledge. I am privileged to work with him. He has changed my views on the brain, education and mental development. I thank him daily for the unique opportunity he gives us to learn more about ourselves. In particular to learn that there is never a half reasoning with half a brain."

"The book is not highly technical, and is suited to the general reader, and at the same time contains detailed notes, with pointers to relevant literature, for those interested in following up on the scientific and medical issues raised in greater depth." Metapsychology Online Review

"At age three, Nico had most of the right side of his brain removed or disconnected to control life-threatening epileptic seisures. After follwoing Nico's development for years, Antonio Battro, M.D. . . concludes that Half a Brain is Enough. Apart from some problems with motor skills, Nico seems quite normal. How can this be? Battro theorizes that Nico's brain restructured itself into a "new" brain—a speculation as fascinating as Nico himself." Psychology Today

"Battro's computer-based approach to rehabilitation should interest both clinicians and biopsychologists." Publisher's Weekly

"Half a Brain is Enough is a charming tale of a young boy who at age 3 underwent a right hemispherectomy for intractable epilepsy. This short book is in part a chronicle of Nico's medical history and psychosocial history and in part a treatise on the brain, mind, and education. . . . it can also serve as a useful reference for those interested in the history of hemispherectomy and the theory of brain remodeling. The author's enthusiasm and fascination for these topics is abundantly obvious from the first to the last pages." Journal of Neurosurgery

Gregory Kane
Beethoven composed his Ninth Symphony when he was deaf. A motorcycle is steered to the left by turning the front wheel right. Some things we believe because, even though they seem impossible, someone we trust says that they are true. It's like that with the little boy in Dr Antonio Battro's book, Half a Brain is Enough: The Story of Nico. Nico has half a brain–and a complete mind. Battro is so expert and likable and forthright that you come away from his book not only knowing Nico's story is true, but sharing his awe at that amazing fact.
Journal of American Medical Association
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nico is a remarkable eight-year-old boy who possesses a slight limp, an affinity for his laptop computer and a "well-kept secret inside his skull." At the age of three, doctors treated Nico's intractable epilepsy by excising the entire right hemisphere of his brain, a procedure conducted only on fairly young children (because of the greater plasticity of their brains) who experience severe seizures. In a brief academic analysis of the brain's compensatory capacity, Battro, a cognitive psychologist who has worked with Nico, compares the boy's rapid progression to developmental theories offered by Jean Piaget and other prominent psychologists. Supporting his own hypothesis that a half brain is a new brain, Battro notes that Nico's musical abilities, motor capabilities (when using a mouse and a keyboard) and attention span have all developed normally despite the fact that many researchers have determined that these functions are mediated by the right hemisphere. Nico's intact left hemisphere, Battro postulates, has acquired these skills and is a whole brain in itself. The only major deficit that Nico has yet to overcome concerns his poor drawing and handwriting skills, a handicap that Battro sought to conquer by giving him an "information prosthesis"--a computer. Now Nico can draw and type on the computer better than anyone in his class, and he has recently discovered the virtues of e-mail and computer programming. Although this technical and theoretical examination will not appeal to the lay reader, Battro's computer-based approach to rehabilitation should interest both clinicians and biopsychologists. (Feb. 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface; Glossary; 1. The heart is in the brain; 2. Sculpting a new brain; 3. Compensatory analysis; 4. First schooling; 5. The cortical shift; 6. The double brain; 7. Brain, education and development; Notes; References; Index.

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