curious - mind, body, planet, universecurious - mind, body, planet, universe
Previews begin October 2007. Premieres January 2008.

Dr. Lynn Paul and the Corpus Callosum Research Program

Dr. Lynn K. Paul, who is featured in the segment on agenesis of the corpus callosum (AgCC), is the founding president of the National Organization of Disorders of the Corpus Callosum (NODCC). She is also the head of the Corpus Callosum Research Program at the California Institute of Technology. This program represents the hub of the AgCC Research Consortium, a multisite collaborative effort whose other members include the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology/Travis Research Institute and the University of California in San Francisco.

The Caltech program’s two main goals are to study emotional responsiveness and social cognition in adults with AgCC and to learn how the brain adapts anatomically to compensate for the absence of the corpus callosum. These studies will increase understanding of AgCC and will help to clarify the role of the corpus callosum in social-cognitive and emotional processing of people with other conditions, such as autism and schizophrenia.

AgCC is conservatively estimated to occur in one in 4,000 live births. Due to the rarity of the condition and the fact that diagnosis has become possible only with the advent of brain imaging, AgCC has been the subject of only limited study, and little information is available on how best to deal with it.

Currently, families must learn by trial and error how to help children with AgCC. Research at Caltech is designed to improve our understanding of how people with AgCC think and behave. These insights will make it possible to refine treatment and education of these individuals to maximize their social function and enrich their lives.

Mapping the Emotional World of AgCC

Parents of children with AgCC report that impaired social skills and lack of personal insight are the greatest hurdles in the children’s daily lives. Emotional immaturity, social incompetence, lack of social judgment and planning, and inability to communicate or recognize emotions makes socialization difficult. People with AgCC tend to prefer much younger friends and find conversation difficult to initiate or maintain. Additional barriers evident in AgCC are literal mindedness, difficulty understanding another person’s perspective, and limited capacity for nuanced empathy. Many people with AgCC have difficulty learning to plan or execute daily activities such as showering, doing homework, or paying bills. As a result of these challenges, people with AgCC may tend to have lives that are socially impoverished or characterized by conflict at home and work.

Understanding how people with AgCC interpret the world may reveal ways they can live in it more easily. One of the studies undertaken by researchers at Caltech involved finding out how patients with primary AgCC interpret emotions on people’s faces. To do this they employed eye tracking — a head-mounted system that monitors what the wearer looks at by precisely recording the frequency, regions, and duration of eye fixations.

A group of patients with AgCC and a comparator group of unimpaired participants were shown a standardized set of photographs of people’s faces. The pictures conveyed a range of emotions and were shown for one second each. Patients with AgCC were consistently less able than the comparator group to identify the emotions conveyed in the pictures, especially those showing anger and surprise. They were also less likely to look at the eyes, but rather focused primarily on the nose. This study supports a hypothesis that abnormal facial scanning may be a contributing factor in the poor emotion recognition and subsequent psychosocial deficits of patients with AgCC.

In another study, nine high-functioning individuals with AgCC were shown pictures of emotionally intense social scenes. In addition to the eye-tracking system, psychophysiological responses (galvanic skin response, heart rate, and respiration rate) were recorded to gauge their emotional arousal. Compared to an unimpaired group, patients with AgCC rated the images as less emotionally intense, particularly with potentially troubling pictures, such as photos depicting mutilation. Although these cognitive ratings of their emotions were subdued, their psychophysiological response, particularly galvanic skin response, conformed more closely with that seen in the comparator group. This suggests that although the right hemisphere is capable of triggering an appropriate psychophysiological emotional response, the lack of communication between the left and right hemispheres prevents patients from expressing these emotions in their ratings.

  • Terrie L. Naramor, PhD

    Congratulations, Dr. Paul! It is wonderful to see your work with the AgCC population getting some recognition.

  • Julie Robbins

    This is clearly important work being done by Dr. Lynn Paul and her colleagues. I imagine many lives will be improved through this research. Kudos!

  • Dave Ingerson

    anychance that it my be available by streaming for those affected but not in the US?

  • Rachel Mulcahy, M.S., PLADC

    Dr. Paul is brilliant. I look forward to viewing this segment.

  • Melissa Riddle

    Congratulations Lynn! I look forward to seeing the program!

  • Peggy and Anton Johnson

    Thank you Dr. Paul!! Your many hours of tireless research will help give our children the hope they need to reach their full human potential.

  • Ryan

    I was more than happy to be a part of this research to help better understand the condition. Thank you Lynn :) I would gladly help again anytime

  • April Maria Dahlheimer

    Thank you for this Dr Paul. I am going to share this with my family and those working with my son Alex. Thanks again for emailing me back so quickly.
    Parents of children with ACC need YOU….
    I appreciate you.

  • Minta meara

    WOW! I remembe the research on the faces. I would never have guessed the out come of the research, though! How great that I was a part of this pioneered research! Keep up the great work you guys!!!

  • Sarah

    Thank you for EVERYTHING that you have done for all of us. You are making our lives a lot easier to live by doing research and helping others understand us a little better.

    I hope I can be a part of some more research studies with you again soon.

  • Robbie Lomes

    Congratulations Dr. Paul! Finally, the world will begin to understand this condition. Thanks so much for having us part of your study and we are more than happy to participate again. All the Best AND Thanks!!!!

  • Jennifer Hamby

    My daughter, Allison, who is 6 has Agenisis of the Corpus Collosum. I found your name while watching “The Real Rainman” on PBS. Outside of being very literally minded, Ally does not show any signs of ACC. She is reading on a 2+ grade level and is very social. Thank you for your work and research.

  • Scott Sternberg

    Lynn, you are amazing!

  • Jane Strauss

    Well, research done at Iowa in the 1990s showed that a significant number of people in a small sample with the Autism label had corpus callosum anomalies. this seems to have fallen by the wayside, but as most people know, those on the Autism spectrum often have faceblindness, social delays etc etc. My son has CC Dysgenesis. In many ways he is more like than unlike the rest of the family who are all on the Autism spectrum, yess, all you NODCC people, even their mom who was constantly vilified on your web discussions for speaking her mind, while you thought anything was acceptable from the “wonderful” adults with ACC. Would be interesting to know if this will air outside the NY area.

  • alfredo vida

    I have no idea about your program but I saw your research and interview at a PBS tv show. I have a 16 yr old son who isnot doing good in school. The first time I asked him to study algebro for 2 hours then the following day he has a splitting headache, then I asked him to read his history, science, english books and he told me he can’t see the letters and had his eyes checked and he has 20/20 vision. I just need guidance on how to make of his ability to utilize his brain or if his brain is stronger than his will/ desire to discipline thru study. I apologize if i can’t be clear or vague of his condition

  • Lynn Paul

    Thank you all for your comments. The range of capabilities in AgCC is broad and this show only demonstrates a segment of it. If you or a family member has a corpus callosum disorder, please go to for more information. And please post your story in the “Our Stories” section. The more people who join and post their stories on, the better understanding we will have of this range of conditions. Blessings to all! Thank you for watching. Lynn

  • Lori

    First I want to say thank you for all of the work that you have done with your research. I don’t see that this show is airing anywhere around Phoenix. Is there a way that I could get a taped copy? I am very interested. I have a 19yr old daughter with a lot of behavior problems.

  • maureen capra

    I missed the show and would love a copy of it as my son has ACC and has been tested by Dr. Lynn Paul!

  • Eugene Gallo

    Dr. Paul, As a parent of a learning disabled 25 year old, I very much appreciate your wonderful work. I was especially moved by the young man from California that you are working with. His desire to learn how to live on his own was very much like that of my daughters. Currently she is attending the Minnesota Life College. It is a small school near Minneapolis with 30 young adults. The mission of the school is to teach learning disabled young people how to live and work on their own. They have a very successful 3 year program and work with young adults with varying degrees of disability. I would encourage your patient and his parents to visit their website.
    I hope that this information may help him in some way. Thanks again. Eugene Gallo, Lisbon, Ohio

  • Keri

    My son is 4 years old and has p-ACC and microcephaly. He is severly developmentally delayed, no talking, no walking. I try to get my hands on as much research as possible because it seems that the doctors know very little. With each case being so different, it is is hard to know what is in store for my son’s future! I just want more info.


  • Doodee

    Thanks for sharing

  • Jesspahagolla

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  • zxevil160

    O6waJN U cool ))

  • Jesspahagolla

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well.

  • D. Roberts

    My son exhibits similar behavior even down to the posture of Tony. There are so many similarities in behavior and situation, yet I have seen my son on rare occasions respond normally to social situations. I read one comment about autism and anomolies which was interesting as my son was diagnosed with Asbergers. I would like to know what Tony’s dad is doing to improve the situation as I would like to help my son similarly.

  • Mike Gonzalees

    I have 2 daughters that have c-acc and was wondering if other families my have 2 or more children with acc

  • D

    I have a lot to learn about ACC. This condition is now a part of my life and I need as much info about it as possible. Keep up the good work.

  • Linda Kemp

    I would like to know how to get the book ACC and Me by Lynn Paul. My grandson has ACC and I was told by a friend who’s son also has ACC that it is a wonderful book to have. Can you help me. Linda

  • Lynn Paul

    Thank you all for your comments!
    For Mike Gonzales – yes there are other families who have multiple children with AgCC. Please contact Elliott Sherr, MD at University of California San Francisco for more information.
    For Linda Kemp, please contact the NODCC ( to request a copy of “ACC & Me.”
    Best regards to all, Lynn

  • Earl Campbell

    I thought you had my son on your tv program ! He is 17 and has been diagnoised with add, adhd, and several other things from the time he was 6. My boy, Jean-Luc looks and ACTS almost identical to the person in your story. How do I get a doctor to look at this posibility ?
    Fustrated in NM.

  • Rebecca Walter

    I would also love to get a copy of ACC and Me as my son has ACC and it would help us & his school to understand how to help him better. How do I get a copy? Please!!

  • vivian

    Hi Dr. Paul,
    I have a 6mth old daughter that was diagnosed with partial QCC amongst other brain abnormalities. Is there a particular neurologist you recommend down in Miami? Also I would love a copy of ACC and me. Thank you for all your work. If you should ever need such a small subject please do not hesitate to call. My husband is from Orange Cty and would be willing to visit family.

  • Ashley Goulf

    My son is 7 years old and was born with AgCC. He has also been diagnosed with ADHD, but the medication he is on does not seem to be helping in a lot of areas…mostly social areas. Other than a few MRIs when he was very young, he has never been “studied” and I would be very interested to find out more about how his condition may be affecting him. Please email me if you would be interested in helping me learn more about my son!

  • Ashley Gould

    I just wanted to clear up a typo! Our last name is Gould (not Goulf) and we are from Ohio!

  • Loretta

    My son was diagnosed with ACC at birth and all the classic signs and behaviors are present in him. Is there a neurologist in Albuquerque you would recommend? Are there any families or ACC support groups in Albuquerque you may be able to recommend I can contact for information or sharing of experience? Thank you for sharing any info with me.

  • Lynn Paul

    You can get a copy of ACC and Me when you join the NODCC. Please email for more information.

  • Phil

    My son was diagnosed AgCC at birth & he will be 10 in August. This program & the nodcc website are fantastic! Being in San Diego, his mother & I would love to find other parents dealing in Southern California with children living with AgCC. Our sons most prominent issues are focusing (mostly on school work) & mirror movements. I will continue to read this post, hopefully we can learn more together!

  • Shana Hanger

    My son is 6years old and was diagnosed with AgCC when I was 7 months pregnant thru an MRI. They also picked up on communicating hydrocephalus during an ultrasound. He is very imaginative, smart and has excellent motor skills. He has difficulty with transitions from home to school and also displays some behavioral problems at times. Socially, it takes him a long time to warm up to new people and to make friends. He loves to watch Free Willy and Flipper though and dreams of swimming with the dolphins. He is described to be very likable with his teachers and does well with a school routine. He will start Kindergarten this year and is looking forward to attending. Please e-mail me if you have any questions. I am always looking for more information on ACC. He has some traits of Aspergers, but I have read this is commonly misdiagnosed when having ACC.

  • brandon Bailey

    hey i am 26 years old and i was born without the corpus callosotomy i always new i was born without it but i never really felt any different from any other kids my age i am married and have 1 girl and a boy on the way i finished high school didnt want to go to collage up until about 3 years ago i started questioning myself am i different my body says no while something in my mind says yes i cant put my finger on it yet but i recently suffered head truama while at work and when the doctor came in i could tell something was puzziling him and he ask me have i ever been in any other accident thats when i told him about what i was born without and he gave me the name of it split brain i did some research on my computer and found the utube section on tony i wont to know more about my condition so i could better myself and others like me if i could talk to dr lynn paul it would help me i have a trillion things to ask i would love to help this research please email me back

  • jenny sullivan

    My son Jack is 7 weeks old and was born with clubfeet so the dotors decided to run other tests. It was thru an MRI scan that they confirmed him as AgCC. We are devastated because for one thing we’d never heard of the condition and we don’t know how it will manifest itself in the future. At the moment he is right on target with his development but he’s so young. Are there signs of developmental problems to look for this early in his life? He tracks us and toys with his eyes, responds to sounds and stimulus etc.

  • Jennie W

    My 4-year old daughter has P-ACC w/ hydrocephalus & is shunted. There is no known cause for one or the other. In some respects she is doing very well. I have a 4 year old self-taught reader! However, we are encountering several emotional/behavioral issues and aren’t sure what’s just Grace being Grace & what’s ACC related. I have not been able to find anyone in Louisiana who is familiar with ACC to give us help & guidence. Do you know of anyone in our region of the US that may be of some help?

  • DR.Lynn Paul

    My name is Dr.Ayman Gynaecologist, my daughter have delayed development due to Complete Agenesis of Corpus Callosum,now she is 8 years old.I am trying to make Thesis about perinatal diagnosis of Agenesis of Corpus Callosum in the first Trimester and if there is any hope to prevent it

  • Tara Economakis

    I am interested in learning whether relaxation/hypnotic therapy has been used in cases of ACC, as hypnosis facilitates the switch between left and right brain.
    Does anyone have any links?
    With thanks

  • Mandie

    Dr.Lynn Paul

    My son Tyron has complete Agenesis of Corpus Callosum. He was also diagnosed with epelepsie. He does not sit, and has infintile spasm. He is 2and a half yrs old now. He makes noises, but does not talk. Will he be able to learn how to sit and walk, because his upper body is weaker, and falls around. I really need sum possitive support. Thank you. Mandie from S.A

  • Michelle Lundy

    My 7 year old daughter has complete AGCC and is also Deaf. She has responded very well to ASL so the neurologists suggested she be educated in ASL. She is reading simple books and spelling but is stubborn as a mule has anyone had any experience with this? She is compassionate to others and is able to read facial reactions well.

  • jason kurdziel

    my son is turning 9 and i am starting to realize some learning problems related to his ACC. I was not the best student in school and often had problems w/ comprehenssion(and spelling), are his troubles related to ACC or is he just growing up to be more like I was? Also I am concerned about when he becomes a teenager. His desicion making process seems off. how do you allow some freedoms as they get older. Should I treat him as a child as he gets older or a young man that will make his own mistakes.

  • Alicia Denlinger

    Thank you for this website. My 13-year old son has complete AgCC. He was also born with an interhemispheric cyst, hydrocephalus and other brain anomolies–all a result of the initial ACC? Despite these defects, Michael would be considered high functioning. School has never been a happy place for Michael (now we get it), but not until the last 3 years have we seen a quantifiable decline in his grades. Also, even more difficult, making or keeping friends. He literally stumbled into public middle school very unsure of himself, yet with the goal of making friends; however with his social awkwardness, he tried too hard, and quickly became an easy target among his peer group. With a failed 504 plan, we are now insisting on an IEP, with some recent education and psychological testing now under our belt. Michael has many of the classic executive function and socio-emotional symptoms. We are grateful for this website and others, that we intend to use to get his Education Plan where it needs to be, and also to understand what, and how critical, our part as parents will be for our son.

  • alyson

    my nephew had trouble from the very beginning – born with a high palate he was unable to eat and our doctors had us trying all kind of nipples that he could not use – now garrett has a feeding tube and is in physical therapy since 2months old, he also has genitourinary problems where the opening is on the underside of this penis, optic nerve damage, micrognathia (small lower jaw), and is now 7months old but being rated as a 4month old> having trouble finding pediatric neurologist to give us any information other than we know he has neurological disorder – please help find any information

  • Arlene Kembel

    I am a special education teacher in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada — I work with a boy who has been recently diagnosed with complete agenisis of the corpus callosum — he is in grade 2; his age-mates are in grade 3 — learning to read is a challenge and I am exploring many possibilities to help him — I am looking for someone who might be interested in doing a research project — any information or names you could provide for me to contact would be greatly appreciated — Arlene Kembel

  • sue Ann

    Hello Arlene
    I have a daughter age four with complete ACC. We live in Ontario, and find that there are not many Canadian resources to assist our daughter. I have a son Who has high functioning autism and have had mane successes with IBI. We have used the same approach with our daughter and have had many successes with it. We are also using an Ipad to assist with communication. hope this helps you and others… Good luck with your student.

  • Tableau design

    hi, that’s a nice post. There is some mistakes but the main is here.

  • Jacqueline

    Hi, my son Rayce has ACC and I also live in Canada, and I am trying my hardest to get help for my son but it’s so difficult because the doctors he has seen have never heard of it or had a patient with it, so in the last 5 years i’ve educated myself on my son’s rare birth defect. He was born missing a muscle under his right lip which is usually an indication of a heart problem but he doesn’t have one, and he has nerve damage on the lower left side of his face. He is a very smart 5 year old but has difficulty coping with situations such as going to school. His Orientation day he spent 2 hours straight starring at the floor, disconnected and uncommunicative and the teacher felt it not necessary to call me which has left a negative impact on my son and I have been trying to get him intervention of some sort to help him and it’s almost a year and we have not seen a Peadiatrician! My husband and I are extremely frustrated and WE need more resources to help our son!

  • Joseph

    After a life long struggle on many levels, mental, behavioral, social, emotional, with *no* answers, my neurologist did an MRI brain scan and I discovered that I was born with complete ACC. I have lots of mixed emotions, but cannot stop thinking how blessed parents of young children are to have early diagnoses and early intervention.

    Not everything in my life has become “rosey” by any means with the diagnoses, but now I have rock to stand on, rather than sinking sand, I *know* what I’m dealing with.

    For any parents looking for support (or adults like myself) please check out the NODCC the National Organization for Disorders of the Corpus Callosum at Its a start.

  • Coleen Bitter

    Hi Dr. Paul, My name is Coleen Bitter. I was born without a Corpus Callosum. I just found out because I keep getting pain on one side of my head so the dr gave me a cat scan then they told me I was born without the corpus callosum.I am 56 now. I always thought I was stupid growing up.My family thought something was wrong with me too. I was call stupid(not by family)I have a hard time with words. i know what I want to say but the words wont come out.I have a hard time with math.Other things also. Can you help me with this please. thank you Coleen

  • Jennifer

    Hi I recently found out that my daughter has a small corpus Callosum. She is 2 years old but was born at 27 weeks gestation. they said that the Corpus Callosum was damaged due to low oxygen levels. I am interested in finding out what to expect from her development. She doesn’t talk and is very unsteady when she does walk.

  • jason kurdziel

    My son is turning 13 and has an absence of the corpus callosum. We are unclear of the type of professionals we need to best serve our son. We currently have a neurologist and he is on an IEP in school. Any advice and or help would be appreciated.
    processing reading (of any kind) and social skills are our main concern.
    Jason Kurdziel

Resources Credits
CURIOUS is made possible through the generous support of TIAA-CREF.

Additional funding for CURIOUS is provided by:
Peter and Merle Mullin
Stan and Barbara Rawn
TIAA-CREFProduced by Thirteen/WNET New York