Tiny Brain No Problem for French Tax Official

– For those who worry about the competence of their tax officials, here’s a story to put your minds at rest:

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From Spiegel On-Line International:

Something that many people secretly believed has been confirmed: You don’t actually need a brain to work in a tax office. A French civil servant has been found to have a huge cavity filled with fluid in his head — yet lives a completely normal life.

The commonly spouted wisdom that people only use 10 percent of their brain power may have been dismissed as a myth, but one French man seems to be managing fine with just a small fraction of his actual brain.

In fact the man, who works as a civil servant in southern France, has succeeded in living an entirely normal life despite a huge fluid-filled cavity taking up most of the space where his brain should be.

Neurologists at the University of Marseille described the incredible case in the latest edition of the medical journal Lancet published Friday.

They describe how the 44-year-old man went to the hospital in 2003 because he felt a mild weakness in his left leg. When the doctors went to look at his brain to see if the problem lay there, they found, well, pretty much nothing but a great black hole.

The man told the hospital that as a child he had suffered from hydrocephalus (also known as “water on the brain”), a condition in which an abnormal ammount of cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain cavities, causing pressure inside the skull. To treat the condition, a valve known as a “shunt” had been inserted in his head to drain away the fluid when he was a six-month old baby. It was removed when he was 14.

This information prompted the doctors to give him a computed tomography scan (CT) and a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). They then saw that there was what they — somewhat euphemistically — called a “massive enlargement” of the lateral ventricles, chambers that hold the fluid which cushions and protects the brain and which are usually tiny.

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And the same story as ScienceDaily reported it…

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