The secrets of human intelligence


The very modest neurosurgeon Professor Duffau is one of the most frequent winners of awards for discoveries related to the brain and decisive progress in neuroscience. Initially criticized for his use of awake brain surgery, he is now acclaimed worldwide and seen sa an authority on thaht spectacular technique, wich onvolves removing patients' tumors without putting them to sleep. Although the procedure is astonishing, the profesor reminds us thaht it is a natural one: the brain has no sense of pain and the patient's active cooperation optimizes the success of operations. The answers to questions the patient is asked during the operation enable the profesor to adjust his parameters to within a millimeter, making the surgery as efficient and non-invasive as possible. 

Through his operations and analyses of neuron connections, the man - who sees himself as a family doctor and mapper of the brain - has been able to demonstrate something that many of his peers once refused to admit: not only is the brain capable of regenerating itself through neuroplascticy, but despite long-established medical theory, its areas are not all static. They intercommunicate, adapts and reorganize themselves depending on the patient's experience or pathology. Although it was previously thought thaht a patient suffering from a brain lesion (hematoma or tumor) in what is known as Broca's area would no longer be able to speak or would suffer from serious dysfunctions, the brain has been shown to rebuild connections to enable the transmission of messages. That has enables the professor to operate on patients with serious tumors while still preserving their quality of life, judgement or talent for painting or dancing. 

Startinf from the case of a young jurist suffering from a brain tumor on whom he is preparing to operate, Professor Duffau looks back over his career and training and describes some of the most spectacular cases he has treated (for instance a multilingual pianist who was able to perform again and remember 3 of the 5 languqges she formerly spoke), as well as the promising potential of his work on the treatment of autism, epilepsy and certain mental disorders. 

Author: 

Professor Hugues Duffau is a brain surgeon. He leads the Department of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital Center of Montpellier, France, and specializes in operations on brain tumors (glioma) and awake brain surgery. Winner of the Herbert Olivercrona medal (the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Medicine), his operations and initiatives all over the world are the subject of international conferences and papers in distinguished scientific journals, such as Brain, Science, etc. 

 

Publication date: October 2015

Pages: 250

Rights available: world

 

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