Hemispherotomy is a neurosurgical disconnection procedure of a damaged hemisphere that is indicated as an ultima ratio option in the treatment of certain individuals with pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Depending on the degree of damage to this lesional hemisphere, a substantial and functioning part of the central nervous system will be postoperatively isolated. This isolated hemisphere raises the question of its state of consciousness and of how to test it.
In yet unpublished research studies, we aim to describe the functional status of the isolated hemisphere using modern neuroimaging and reflect forthcoming results on neurophilosophical grounds.
One of the leading hypotheses of these projects is that experiments on the isolated hemisphere of the individual after hemispherotomy can provide empirical evidence to current neurophilosophical debates on “Islands of Awareness”.
Exemplary MR-images of an individual after hemispherotomy (male, 21 years old).
Saggital, coronal and transversal describe the anatomical planes of view. The isolated hemisphere is the right one (left side of the image by convention). Please note the surprising amount of intact brain tissue beside the obvious lesions.