What Is the Role of the Corpus Callosum?

Reviewed on 2/12/2021
The brain is made up of two sides (hemispheres) known as the right and left cerebral hemispheres
The brain is made up of two sides (hemispheres) known as the right and left cerebral hemispheres

The brain is made up of two sides (hemispheres) known as the right and left cerebral hemispheres. Each hemisphere controls the limb movement and sensations in the opposite half of the body. The right brain is involved with abstract concepts and imagination, whereas the right brain is associated with calculations, navigation, and rational decisions. The corpus callosum is a band of nerve fibers that connects these two hemispheres. Its role is to integrate and transfer information from one half of the brain to another so that both process sensory, motor, and high-level cognitive signals. In short, the two halves of the brain communicate with each other through the corpus callosum.

The corpus callosum is around 10-cm-long and C-shaped. It forms in the brain at the end of the third month of the intrauterine life.

What is agenesis of the corpus callosum?

Some children may not have a corpus callosum, or in some, it may be underdeveloped. The second condition is known as agenesis of the corpus callosum. Around 1 in 3,000 people are born with it.

Problems in the development of the corpus callosum can occur between the 5th and 16th week of pregnancy.

What causes agenesis of the corpus callosum?

The exact cause of agenesis of the corpus callosum is unknown. The possible causes include:

  • Viral infections (such as rubella) when the baby is in the womb
  • Genetic defects (one or both the parents being a carrier of the gene for corpus callosum agenesis)
  • Exposure of the fetus (unborn baby) to heavy drinking, toxins, or certain medications during pregnancy
  • A cyst or tumor in the brain

Can you live without the corpus callosum?

Yes. People can live without the corpus callosum. However, such children and adults will often fall behind their peers in development. They may be blind or deaf or never learn to walk or talk. They may suffer from medical problems such as seizures.

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How is agenesis of the corpus callosum diagnosed?

An epileptic seizure is often the early sign of agenesis of the corpus callosum that leads the doctor to diagnose the condition. This usually happens before the child completes 2 years of age.

The doctor may suspect agenesis of the corpus callosum based on the findings of ultrasound exams during pregnancy. To diagnose or rule out the condition, they may order other tests that include:

What are the signs and symptoms of agenesis of the corpus callosum?

Apart from epileptic seizures, other signs and symptoms of agenesis of the corpus callosum may begin early in life. These include:

Sometimes, the child may not exhibit any signs or symptoms for many of their initial years. The condition may also get diagnosed as late as in old age.

What is the treatment for agenesis of the corpus callosum?

There is no treatment available specifically for agenesis of the corpus callosum. The underdeveloped corpus callosum remains the same throughout life. Doctors can only treat the symptoms such as seizures with medications. Supportive therapies include:

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References
Goldstein A, Covington BP, Mahabadi N, et al. Neuroanatomy, Corpus Callosum. [Updated 2020 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448209/

Agenesis of Corpus Callosum. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/agenesis-of-corpus-callosum/

Pediatric Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum. https://childrensnational.org/visit/conditions-and-treatments/prenatal-care-pregnancy/agenesis-of-the-corpus-callosum

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