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Strange Brains and Case Studies


Over the years, we have been compiling case studies in neuroscience to use for teaching (with help from Bill Meil). Below, is a list of bizarre things that might happen to your brain and associated case studies when possible. Wikipedia descriptions and links have been provided as an introduction to these strange brains and reference to popular science books are provided for case studies. Neither should be considered the paragon of truth and both should be read with some, if not heaps of skepticism. That said, case studies are a useful method of explication because, among other reasons, they add a humanistic element and provide a flavour for how incredibly interesting and strange the brain is that is often lacking in (dry) neuroscience textbooks.

Essential Reading





  • Agrammatism is a characteristic of non-fluent aphasia. Individuals with agrammatism present with speech that is characterized by containing mainly content words, with a lack of function words. For example, when asked to describe a picture of children playing in the park, the affected individual responds with, “trees.. children.. run.”


  • AKA – Motion Blindness
  • An extremely rare neuropsychological disorder in which a patient cannot perceive motion in his/her visual field, despite being able to see stationary objects without issue.



Alice in Wonderland syndrome

Alien Hand Syndrome


  • A neurological disorder in which the patient responds to stimuli presented to one side of their body as if the stimuli had been presented at the opposite side.


Anarchic Hand Syndrome

  • See – Alien Hand Syndrome



Antero- and Retrograde Amnesia

  • Categories – Memory
  • ‘Anterograde amnesia is a loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia, leading to a partial or complete inability to recall the recent past, while long term memories from before the event remain intact.” and “Retrograde amnesia is a form of amnesia where someone is unable to recall events that occurred before the development of the amnesia.’
  • Case Study I

  • Case Study II

    • Title – Marooned in the Moment: H.M. a Case of Global Amnesia
    • Notes – Case of Henry Gustav Molaison (i.e., H.M.), who was “a memory-impaired patient who was widely studied from the late 1950s until his death. His case played a very important role in the development of theories that explain the link between brain function and memory, and in the development of cognitive neuropsychology, a branch of psychology that aims to understand how the structure and function of the brain relates to specific psychological processes.” This case study has a qualitative twist.
    • Reference – Ogden, J. A. (2005). Fractured minds. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • See also – Korsakoff’s syndrome

Anton–Babinski Syndrome



Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aspergers


Balint’s Syndrome

  • Characterized by optic ataxia (incoordination of hand and eye movement), oculomotor apraxia (the inability to voluntarily guide eye movements/ change to a new location of visual fixation), and simultanagnosia (the inability to perceive more than one object at a time, even when in the same place).


  • A phenomenon in which people who are perceptually blind in a certain area of their visual field demonstrate some response to visual stimuli.

Capgras Delusion

Cerebral Achromatopsia

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Conduction Aphasia

  • AKA – Associative Aphasia
  • An acquired language disorder, it is characterized by intact auditory comprehension, fluent (yet paraphasic) speech production, but poor speech repetition.

Cotard Delusion or Syndrome

  • AKA – Walking Corpse Syndrome
  • A rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which people hold a delusional belief that they are dead (either figuratively or literally), do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs. Rarely, it can include delusions of immortality.


Dr Strangelove Syndrome

  • See – Alien Hand Syndrome


  • Also known as pseudo-foreign dialect syndrome, refers to a disorder in which one or more of these prosodic functions are either compromised or eliminated completely.

Encephalitis Lethargica

  • The disease attacks the brain, leaving some victims in a statue-like condition, speechless and motionless.
  • Case Study

    • Title – Awakenings
    • Notes – ‘They would be conscious and aware – yet not fully awake; they would sit motionless and speechless all day in their chairs, totally lacking energy, impetus, initiative, motive, appetite, affect or desire; they registered what went on about them without active attention, and with profound indifference. They neither conveyed nor felt the feeling of life; they were as insubstantial as ghosts, and as passive as zombies.
    • Reference – Sacks, O. (1990). Awakenings. HarperPerennial.

Expressive or Broca’s Aphasia

Foreign Accent Syndrome

Fregoli Delusion

Gaze-Evoked Tinnitus


Hemispatial Neglect


Huntington’s Disease


Ideomotor Apraxia

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine

  • It results in an exaggerated “startle” reflex.. for instance, individuals who would obey any command given suddenly, even if it meant striking a loved one, and repeat back unfamiliar or foreign phrases uncontrollably.

Korsakoff’s Syndrome

King-Kopetzky Syndrome

Kluver-Bucy Syndrome


  • AKA – Megalopia
  • A neurological condition affecting human visual perception, in which objects within an affected section of the visual field appear larger than normal, causing the subject to feel smaller.


  • See – Macropsia


Motion Blindness

  • See – Akinetopsia

Multiple sclerosis or MS


  • A feature of aphasia in which one loses the ability of speaking correctly, substitutes one word for another, and changes words and sentences in an inappropriate way.

Parkinson’s disease

Phantom Limb

Pragmatic language impairment


  • A disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact.

Pure Word Deafness

Receptive or Wernicke’s Aphasia

Reduplicative Paramnesia


  • A severe mental illness characterized by a disintegration of the process of thinking, of contact with reality, and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social or occupational dysfunction.



Text Blindness

  • See – Alexia

Todd’s syndrome

  • See – Alice in Wonderland syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome

Walking Corpse Syndrome

  • See – Cotard’s Delusion

Visual Agnosia

  • The inability of the brain to make sense of or make use of some part of otherwise normal visual stimulus and is typified by the inability to recognize familiar objects or faces.

Visual Aphasia

  • See – Alexia

Williams Syndrome

  • A distinctive, “elfin” facial appearance, along with a low nasal bridge; an unusually cheerful demeanor and ease with strangers; developmental delay coupled with unusual (for persons who are diagnosed as developmentally delayed) language skills; and cardiovascular problems, such as supravalvular aortic stenosis and transient hypercalcaemia.

Wilson’s Disease

Word Blindness

  • See – Alexia