Introducing the brain: the plasticity of body part loss (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 05, 2019, 18:54 (322 days ago) @ David Turell

Lose a hand and the brain shifts its connections:

"...researchers at the University of Missouri have discovered a new insight into how the complex neural map of the human brain operates.


"'When a person touches something with their right hand, a specific 'hand area' in the left side of the brain lights up," said Scott Frey, the Miller Family Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychological Sciences. "A similar, but opposite reaction happens with the left hand. But when someone loses a hand, we found both 'hand areas' of the brain—left and right—become dedicated to the remaining healthy hand. This is a striking example of functional reorganization or the plasticity of the human brain."


"The researchers saw in their scans that when the brain is deprived of input from a lost hand, it reorganizes its neural map and reroutes those functions to the remaining hand.


"'We can think of the areas of the brain that process sensations from our bodies as being organized like a map with separate territories devoted to specific body regions such as the hands, face, or feet," said Frey, who is also the director of the Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory at MU, a joint venture between the MU College of Arts and Science and the MU School of Medicine. "We have long known that injuries such amputation or spinal cord damage change the organization of this map. If you lose a hand, for instance, then the associated 'hand area' may be partially taken over by neighboring functions in the map involved in processing sensations of the arm or face. This is a form of 'brain plasticity.' This work demonstrates that such plasticity also occurs across great distances between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.'"

Comment: Not surprising considering other examples we've seen.

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