Doctors believe twins share a mind

CONJOINED four-year-old Irish-Canadian twins, Krista and Tatiana Hogan, are making scientific history. The sisters share a mind.

From the beginning doctors noticed something strange about the girls. When one was being pricked with a needle the other’s face would be a mirror image of her sister’s; wincing and crying. One soother in one of the baby’s mouths would sooth them both.

These Irish-Canadian twins are making scientific history by literally sharing the same consciousness.

Having observed the twins’ behaviour, studied scans and examined their brain’s biology doctors believe that their brains are linked, from one thalmus to another. The thalmus is comparable to the switchboard of the brain — it filters sensory input and has long been thought to be the part of the brain which creates consciousness.

Krista and Tatiana are joined by the head. They are one in 2.5 million babies and there was only a fraction of a chance that they would survive.

Douglas Cochrane of British Columbia Children’s Hospital, the twins’ neurosurgeon, describes their condition as their thalamus being linked by a bridge. He explained that the input that one of the twins receives crosses that bridge and it is entirely possible that the sense crosses to the other twin’s brain. Their brains are connected by a “live wire”.

They have been described by one neuroscientist as “a new life form”.

The twins were born healthy at 34 weeks. Their parents, Felicia Simms and Brendan Hogan then had to decide whether to separate the girls. Their neurosurgeon, having consulted with various others, said it was too risky.

James T Goodrich, director of paediatric neuro­surgery for Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx consulted on the case. He said: “You’d have to have cut through too much normal tissue and split the thalami… It would have potentially been lethal.”

Now that the children are happy and healthy their family is not eager to have them tested and examined by the medical community in the pursuit of science. Doug McKay, their step-grandfather, explains: “If one of them needs it for their health, by all means, they can do what they need to do… But I’ll be damned if you’re going to poke and prod and experiment on them.”

A reporter for the New York Times speaks of tickling one of the girl’s feet and the other giggling loudly.

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