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What happens when the corpus callosum is cut?

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The corpus callosum is a band of nerve fibers that connects the right and left halves of the brain. Its function is to pass information from one hemisphere to the other, but, according to WebMD, it can also contribute to the perpetuation of seizures in some patients with epilepsy. In these patients, a surgery in which the corpus callosum is cut usually makes the seizures less severe.

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Also known as split brain surgery, the corpus callosotomy is only performed in patients with extreme and uncontrollable seizure disorders that affect both sides of the brain, according to WebMD. Patients who suffer from drop attacks, which are serious seizures that cause the patient to suddenly fall and potentially suffer serious injury, are sometimes considered for this procedure if anti-seizure medications have not proven effective.

According to About Kids Health, cutting the corpus callosum can cause unwanted side effects in many patients. Language and visual identification are handled by opposite sides of the brain in some patients. Since information can no longer be passed from one brain hemisphere to the other, some patients are unable to verbally identify objects following surgery, even though they recognize objects and can otherwise speak normally. About Kids Health also states that patients often experience auras and difficulty with memory following surgery. Sometimes these symptoms subside with time, while other times they persist.

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