Medicine: Mind over Muscle

By all the surgical rules, he should have been dead. Yet, at a Toronto hospital last week, he was walking around—with the top of his brain sliced off.

Two years ago in England, Flight Officer M. W. ("Larry") Doyle, 24, an R.C.A.F. bomber pilot, was hit by his plane's whirling propeller. It gouged out a part of the motor and the sensory areas of his brain. He was rushed to a hospital and operated on in 15 minutes, mostly to stop the blood flow.

Four days later Larry Doyle woke up. He could not remember the accident, but otherwise he was clearheaded. "[The...