Amputees’ brains remember missing hands even years later Featured

Biological and Medical Sciences Written by  mercredi, 23 novembre 2016 11:49 font size decrease font size increase font size
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Our brains have a detailed picture of our hands and fingers, and that persists even decades after an amputation, Oxford University researchers have found. The finding could have implications for the control of next generation prosthetics.

Team leader, Dr. Tamar Makin said: ‘It has been thought that the hand 'picture’ in the brain, located in the primary somatosensory cortex, could only be maintained by regular sensory input from the hand. In fact, textbooks teach that the 'picture’ will be 'overwritten’ if its primary input stops. If that was the case, people who have undergone hand amputation would show extremely low or no activity related to its original focus in that brain area- in our case, the hand. However, we also know that people experience phantom sensations from amputated body parts, to the extent that someone asked to move a finger can 'feel’ that movement.

'We wanted to look at the information underlying brain activity in phantom movements, to see how it varied from the brain activity of people moving actual hands and fingers.’

The team, from Oxford’s Hand and Brain Lab, used an ultra-high power (7T) MRI scanner to look at brain activity in two people who had lost their left hand through amputation 25 and 31 years ago but who still experienced vivid phantom sensations, and eleven people who retained both hands and were right handed. Each person was asked to move individual fingers on their left hand.

Study leader, Ms. Sanne Kikkert said: 'We found that while there was less brain activity related to the left hand in the amputees, the specific patterns making up the composition of the hand picture still matched well to the two-handed people in the control group.’

'We confirmed our findings by working with a third amputee, who had also experienced a loss of any communication between the remaining part of their arm and their brain. Even this person had a residual representation of their missing hand’s fingers, 31 years after their amputation.’

One of those involved in the study was Chris Sole. Chris, whose hand was amputated in 1989, has taken part in a number of studies and was chosen for this study specifically because of the strong sense of movement in his amputated hand that he still experiences. He explained: 'You feel like you can move your fingers and you have individual control.

'I am always happy to take part in this team’s studies. Especially if it can help other people, the more they can learn the better.’

The current study provides a new opportunity to unlock one of the most mysterious questions about the brain’s ability to adaptively change to new circumstances - what happens to the brain once a key input is lost? To answer this question, scientists so far resorted to studying representations of the remaining (unaffected) inputs to see if these have changed. This approach leaves unexplored the possibility that the original function of the brain may be preserved, though latent. By studying phantom sensations in amputees these findings overturn established thinking in neuroscience by showing the brain maintains activity despite a drastic change in inputs.

Although these findings provide new insight about the brain’s ability to change, they are compatible with other studies of the brain’s visual cortex that found that degenerative eye disease limiting visual input did not change the brain’s representation of the visual field.

Sanne Kikkert said: 'It seems that even, as previously thought, the brain does carry out reorganisation when sensory inputs are lost, it does not erase the original function of a brain area.’

'This would remove a barrier to neuroprosthetics - prosthetic limbs controlled directly by the brain - the assumption that a person would lose the brain area that could control the prosthetic. If the brain retains a representation of the individual fingers, this could be exploited to provide the fine-grained control needed.’




Read 61723 times


  • Comment Link Keri dimanche, 26 mai 2019 08:20 posted by Keri

    Simply desire tⲟ say your article is aѕ astounding.
    The clarity in yur post iѕ imply cool аnd і can assume you ɑre an expert on this
    subject. Ϝine woth your permission alⅼow me to grab yoᥙr RSS feed to keeρ up to ɗate witһ forthcoming post.

    Thanks ɑ milⅼion and рlease kеep սp the
    gratifying work.

  • Comment Link Lilla dimanche, 19 mai 2019 01:13 posted by Lilla

    Представляем Вам нашу нашу коллекцию
    порно фотографий на сайте - клик .
    Смотри как стройные красавицы модельной внешности позируют перед камерой демонстрируя
    свои "прелести". Только самые страстные девушки готовые
    на все. Кстати, у нас ты
    найдешь не только гламурыне потрно
    фотки, но и необычные фото, так сказать на любителя,
    с разныеми фетишами и фистингом.

    Все фото архивы разбиты по категориям, выбирай понравишуюся и смотри совершенно бесплатно!

  • Comment Link Leslee samedi, 30 mars 2019 13:07 posted by Leslee

    Hello there! I simply wіsh too offer yoᥙ a bbig
    thumbs up for the excellent infоrmation youu have gοt right heгe on this post.
    Ӏ wіll bе cοming baϲk to your website for morе soon.

  • Comment Link Uncontested file papers mardi, 12 février 2019 11:55 posted by Uncontested file papers

    Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice
    while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast
    offered bright clear concept

  • Comment Link Evie mardi, 22 janvier 2019 03:23 posted by Evie

    It's not arduous to see why. Try too create an arc.

  • Comment Link Online Divorce Papers Are Simply And Simple To Access dimanche, 13 janvier 2019 16:49 posted by Online Divorce Papers Are Simply And Simple To Access

    Thanks to my father who stated to me about this website,
    this web site is truly awesome.

  • Comment Link Easy Papers Online mardi, 01 janvier 2019 19:40 posted by Easy Papers Online

    Somebody necessarily help to make significantly articles I would state.
    That is the very first time I frequented your website page and to this point?
    I amazed with the research you made to create this actual publish extraordinary.
    Great job!

  • Comment Link Indira jeudi, 13 décembre 2018 14:50 posted by Indira

    great points altogether, you just received a emblem new reader.
    What could you suggest in regards to your publish that you just made some days ago?
    Any sure?

  • Comment Link Samira dimanche, 02 décembre 2018 09:05 posted by Samira

    naturally like your web-site but you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a
    few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome
    to inform the truth then again I'll certainly come back again.

  • Comment Link Kathryn mercredi, 20 juin 2018 10:34 posted by Kathryn

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly think this web site needs much more attention. I'll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!


Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Arabways Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter


Recent Twitter Posts


The main criterion for election as a ARABWAYS Member is scientific excellence. Only those scientists who have made significant contributions to the advancement of science can be nominated as Members

Becoming a member is easy! Just make sure you have all of the items listed below :

  • Curriculum Vitae/Resume
  • Students and Postdocs: Proof of enrollment/status such as letter of acceptance and contact information for a department/faculty contact. 
  • Membership form