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Half a Brain is Enough: The Story of Nico (Cambridge Studies in Cognitive and Perceptual Development) Paperback – November 2, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0521031110 ISBN-10: 0521031117

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Nico, now 8, came to physician and psychologist Battro's attention when he was 5, some two years after the right half of his brain was removed to deal with severe epilepsy. Battro, who calls the field he pioneers neuroeducation , found that working with Nico, who since developed normally and became a capable student in school, spurred him to rethink what he knew about the brain. He describes his close relationship with Nico, whom he calls intelligent and affectionate. Since they are vital to what he does, Battro points out the value of computers, especially laptops, in expanding especially a child's potential for living a productive life, and he brings up many points crucial to the study of education and human nature. Human brains and machine brains, he cautions, are dissimilar, but the latter can be harnessed to the former to promote what amounts to the sculpting of a "new" brain. At times tough reading, Battro's brief book speaks vitally to those involved with children like Nico and to anyone interested in cognitive development. William Beatty
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Cognitive and Perceptual Development (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521031117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521031110
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Antoine Tardif on August 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating contribution to understanding human brain functioning. Nico undergoes a hemispherectomy (removal of his right hemisphere) due to extreme epilepsy.
What follows is the amazing journey of Nico, through kinder garden, schooling, and socialization. Nico conveys the image of which the author so profoundly believes, that his left hemisphere isn't damaged, it's a brain it itself.
By reading this book, you'll realize that Nico has nearly no deficits resulting from his hemispherectomy. His left visual field is absent (due to the left eye normally transmitting information to the right - in this case absent - hemisphere. He also suffers from minor physical disability in his right limbs. Nonetheless, Nico performs or outperforms his peers when it comes to reasoning and intelligence, with the only deficit being in drawing.
It would do injustice to the author if it weren't mentioned about how he strongly believes in technology improving education for both the general public and especially handicapped children. By using a laptop Nico was able to further his verbal and spatial education regardless of his drawing and handwriting deficit.
Antonio M. Battro deserves credit and reading for this extremely concise and informative authoritative introduction to hemispherectomy & brain research in general.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lance F. James on April 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Battro's insightful, inspirational, and sensitive study of a young boy whose functional hemispherectomy has left him with only a functioning left side of his brain is a challenge to many preconceptions regarding the limitations of the human brain and its adaptability. The successful adaptations made by the subject of the book, Nico, with the aid of computer technology to succeed in a regular academic environment will call into question standard lesion analysis in projecting the capabilities and potential of others who have undergone this surgery.
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By J. Furman on September 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Half A Brain Is Enough is a provocative story about a young eight year old boy named Nico, who at the age of three years old, had half of his brain functionally and anatomically removed. What follows is a remarkable boy's journey through healing, learning, and development.

Nico suffered from severe and intractable epilepsy, which began at age two. His seizures were devastating and constant, filled with loss of consciousness, fear, and concern over his young developing brain and body. A decision was made to perform a critical brain surgery to excise his entire right hemisphere. Hemispherectomies are only performed on the very young due to the plastic nature of the brain, with the hope that the brain, and the person, can fully recover from the drastic surgery. Antonio Battro M.D., a clinical physician and cognitive psychologist that has pioneered the `neuroeducation' field, first received Nico at five years of age, and this book documents the next three years. Battro maps Nico's "neuroeducation" with warmth and compassion in a book that is partially a case history and partially a study of neuronal development. Half A Brain Is Enough is filled with intricate details about Nico's abilities, as well as the use of technology in education. Throughout the book it is evident that Battro is "delighted with Nico's progress and grateful for the opportunity to help him and learn with him."

Nico entered a traditional school with his peers, and for the most part, kept up with the normal pace of his classes. At the age of writing (eight years old), Nico had progressed in each year of school at the pace of his classmates, including some higher rankings in verbal and language skills.
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