The brain is divided into the right and left hemispheres, and the corpus callosum connects the two halves.

This bundle of nerve tissue contains more than 200 million axons (nerve fibers that carry electrical impulses from neurons’ cell bodies). This neural tissue facilitates communication between the two sides of the brain.

The corpus callosum is the largest collection of white matter within the brain, and it has a high myelin content. Myelin is a fatty, protective coating around nerves that facilitates quicker transmission of information.

White matter should not be confused with gray matter. The brain uses gray matter for computation, thinking, memory storage, and more. White matter, like the corpus callosum, allows different parts of the brain to communicate with each other.

Some birth irregularities may lead to some people lacking this neural tissue. In modern neurosurgery, some surgeons have surgically cut the corpus callosum to treat epileptic seizures. By disrupting contact between the two brain hemispheres, a seizure can be isolated and kept from spreading.

Agenesis of the corpus callosum

Agenesis of the corpus callosum is a rare disorder characterized by the partial or complete absence of the corpus callosum.

It’s a congenital condition, meaning that it’s present at birth, and can be genetic or caused by alcohol exposure, injury, or infection during pregnancy.

About 60% of people with corpus callosum agenesis present with intellectual disabilities. Other common symptoms include:

  • impaired vision
  • delayed speech development
  • seizures
  • feeding problems

Agenesis of the corpus callosum may also be associated with several other conditions, including:

Hypoplasia of the corpus callosum

Hypoplasia of the corpus callosum occurs when the corpus callosum is thin and underdeveloped.

It can be caused by many conditions, including certain metabolic disorders, abnormal fetal development, and brain injury.

It could cause developmental delays, learning problems, and alterations in appearance. One 2017 review suggests that reduced thickness of the corpus callosum may be associated with autism, but more studies are needed.

Dysgenesis of the corpus callosum

Also known as malformation of the corpus callosum, this disorder is associated with alterations in cognition, behavior, and physical appearance.

Like other corpus callosum disorders, it occurs during early brain development and may be caused by brain injury or trauma.

Hypogenesis of the corpus callosum

Hypogenesis of the corpus callosum is a disorder caused by the partial formation of the corpus callosum.

This disorder is present at birth and may be caused by genetic factors or by an injury or infection during pregnancy.

Hypogenesis of the corpus callosum presents with the same symptoms as agenesis of the corpus callosum, including seizures, intellectual disabilities, and problems with vision, speech, and coordination.

Corpus callosum abnormalities are typically diagnosed with routine imaging tests during pregnancy, like a prenatal ultrasound scan. An MRI scan may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Although corpus callosum abnormalities are usually detected during pregnancy, they may be diagnosed after birth using an MRI scan.

If your doctor suspects that genetics might play a role, they may recommend genetic testing using a tissue sample.

Although disorders of the corpus callosum can cause several serious symptoms, many people diagnosed with corpus callosum abnormalities go on to live fulfilling lives.

In fact, the prognosis for a disorder of the corpus callosum typically often depends on whether it’s accompanied by any other conditions or brain abnormalities.

There’s no way to treat or reverse disorders of the corpus callosum. Instead, treatment typically focuses on managing symptoms caused by corpus callosum abnormalities — like seizures or vision problems — using medications or therapy.

Your doctor can help you determine the best course of treatment to manage and reduce symptoms.