The story of “Patient M”: War veteran who started seeing the world upside down after a bullet went through his brain


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Neuroscience owes much to scientists studying the brains of people with horribly injured cortices. One of these cases was after being shot in the head during the Spanish Civil War. The case of “Patient M” who begins to see the world in an upside down way.

Until this case, neurologists believed that the brain consisted of distinct regions separated by sharp boundaries with little or no overlap. However, Patient M’s crushed injured brain disagreed with the idea and Justo Gonzalo Rodríguez-Leal It enabled a doctor named Dr. to develop a new theory of brain dynamics.

The Spanish Civil War raged the country from 1936 to 1939, culminating in the Nationalist victory over the Republicans. Francisco Franco It was a brutal struggle that resulted in the establishment of a dictatorship under Patient M, fighting for the Republicans, was shot in the head on a battlefield in Valencia, Levante, in May 1938. was 25 years old.

Awakening from a coma two weeks later, the injured soldier reported no vision in his left eye and only a slight glint in his right eye. The man, who had two knotty holes in his skull where the bullet went in and out, recovered without surgery or any special care, causing the doctors to be surprised.

While observing Patient M over the next 50 years, Rodriguez-Leal described a highly confusing set of symptoms. For example, In addition to seeing everything in threes, the man also saw colors “separated” from objects.

Justo Gonzalo Rodríguez-Leal

Yet one of the most interesting findings is that Patient M He saw everything as if it had been turned upside down.. Rodríguez-Leal, in his book Cerebral Dynamics, emphasizes the situation, saying that the war veteran’s “for example, he found his abnormalities strange when he saw men working upside down on a pier.” he explained.

Hearing and touch are also reversed

This sensory reversal also applied to the patient’s senses of hearing and touch, and the patient’s brain felt as if this information was coming from the other direction. Despite this severe illness, the patient was able to continue with his life with very few problems. Rodríguez-Leal attributes this to the involuntary development of coping strategies, such as selective attention to intense stimuli.

The doctor told Cerebral Dynamics that the bullet was in Patient M’s. that it seems to affect the left parieto-occipital region of his brain says. Observing the consequences of this injury, Rodríguez-Leal suggested that the brain may not have been divided into different regions, contrary to popular belief.

Based on the way the wound obscures the victim’s senses, he suggested that neurological functions could be organized into gradients spanning the entire cortex, with distinct regions separated by gradual transitions.

Rodríguez-Leal’s daughter Isabella GonzaloIn an interview with El Pais, Patient M, whose identity has never been revealed, died in the late 1990s and lived a long and healthy life. Despite surviving 60 years in his inverted world, the ex-soldier apparently was largely undisturbed by his idiosyncrasy.


The story of “Patient M”: War veteran who started seeing the world upside down after a bullet went through his brain

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