Welcome to a new collaboration with the NODCC and its key researchers from around the globe. Each month we will introduce you to important research being conducted on the topic of DCCs through the specific research of friends of the NODCC. Today we’re proud to introduce you to Malcolm Jeeves, Ph.D., CBE, FRSE, FMedSci, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews.
December 2023 Featured Researcher: Malcolm Jeeves – ACC Research
Compiled and Edited by Miriam Bernard
Malcolm Jeeves, Ph.D., CBE, FRSE, FMedSci, is a cognitive neuroscientist and neuropsychologist who has spent time during his incredibly storied career studying individuals with ACC. He has received honorary degrees from Edinburgh University, Stirling University, and St Andrews University, has won numerous psychology research prizes, and is the author of several books on the topics of psychology and science and Christian belief.
Malcolm Jeeves first encountered a patient with ACC while working in the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia. The patient’s mother said she’d be willing to bring in her six-year-old son for further testing, and this started Dr. Jeeves down the path of interest in ACC and how it affects the thinking and behavior. Soon after, he received another referral of a man who’d recently been having epileptic episodes. It turned out that he also, on examination, was lacking the corpus callosum. Around that same time, 1981 Nobel Prize winner and neuropsychologist Roger Sperry was conducting animal work on the corpus callosum, mainly with monkeys and cats. Dr. Jeeves decided he would consider if there was any possibility of making an animal model that might approximate the condition of someone growing up without a corpus callosum.
While living in Adelaide, Australia, Malcolm Jeeves first initiated and developed a line of research on the behavior of marsupials, who all lack a corpus callosum. He went on to conduct many studies on marsupials including kangaroos, quokkas, bandicoots that opened the door for further research by other psychologists and neuroscience.
When asked to describe the nature of the corpus callosum and its absence, Malcolm Jeeves states, “When the 200 million fibers that form the major connecting pathway between the two sides of the brain is compromised or absent, a priori, you’d think this would have a massive effect on the functioning of the brain as a whole. And so the real surprise was that there are people who are born without the corpus callosum who go through the whole of their life, at times, without anybody knowing they haven’t got it. And so there must be ways that the brain is able to accommodate and compensate for these radical differences.
I think the importance of the studies that I started is that it enables people who have this condition themselves, or who have family members who are acallosal, to have increasing insight and understanding into ways in which you can sometimes compensate for the loss, or absence from birth, of the corpus callosum.
If you can compensate for the absence then you may have a deeper understanding of, for example, the slightly nuanced difficulties you might have in social insight and interpersonal relations, whether in a family or in an age group, at school, or when they grow up and they’re at work. And if you have a better insight into the possible problems, you’re in a much better position to try to develop strategies yourself or with the help of others to compensate for these.”
We’re very grateful for the commitment of Malcolm Jeeves to better understanding the corpus callosum and how both humans and animals compensate so substantially in its absence. To read the complete interview with Malcolm Jeeves from June 2023 from which this article was derived, as well as a list of studies published by Jeeves on agenesis of the corpus callosum and interhemispheric interactions, click HERE.