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Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Neuropsychologia. 1998 Oct;36(10):1015-24

Paradoxically greater interhemispheric transfer deficits in partial than complete callosal agenesis

Symptoms of interhemispheric disconnection are typically much less severe in callosal agenesis than after surgical section of the corpus callosum. Sperry [Sperry, R. W., Plasticity of neural maturation. Developmental Biology, 1968, 2 (Suppl.), 306-327.] has attributed this difference to two interconnected factors: (1) the callosal section is usually performed after the brain has lost the maximal degree of functional plasticity associated with the early stages of development and (2) the removal of an already formed structure is more disruptive for functional brain organization than the failure of the same structure to develop. It has been suggested that functional compensation is less efficient if callosal agenesis is partial rather than complete [Dennis, M., Impaired sensory and motor differentiation with corpus callosum agenesis: A lack of callosal inhibition during ontogeny? Neuropsychologia, 1976, 14, 455-469.]. This suggestion is supported by the present findings of partial left-hand anomia, partial left-field alexia and poor tactile cross-localization in a subject with a congenital absence of the posterior part of the corpus callosum due to an arteriovenous malformation. In agreement with many previous studies, similar, though more severe, symptoms of interhemispheric disconnection were found in a subject with a complete section of the corpus callosum, but not in a subject with complete callosal agenesis. Praxic control of the left hand on verbal commands was severely deficient in the callosotomy subject, but it was normal in the subject with callosal hypogenesis. The lesser degree of compensation in partial compared to complete callosal agenesis may be explained by a reduced pressure to develop extracallosal means of interhemispheric communication, contingent on the partial existence of callosal connections, as well as by the later occurrence in development of the causes of callosal hypogenesis compared to those of total callosal agenesis.

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