Revealing the neural fingerprints of a missing hand
SourceElife, 5, (2016), pp. e15292, article e15292
Article / Letter to editor
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PI Group Statistical Imaging Neuroscience
Subject220 Statistical Imaging Neuroscience; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 7: Neurodevelopmental disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
The hand area of the primary somatosensory cortex contains detailed finger topography, thought to be shaped and maintained by daily life experience. Here we utilise phantom sensations and ultra high-field neuroimaging to uncover preserved, though latent, representation of amputees' missing hand. We show that representation of the missing hand's individual fingers persists in the primary somatosensory cortex even decades after arm amputation. By demonstrating stable topography despite amputation, our finding questions the extent to which continued sensory input is necessary to maintain organisation in sensory cortex, thereby reopening the question what happens to a cortical territory once its main input is lost. The discovery of persistent digit topography of amputees' missing hand could be exploited for the development of intuitive and fine-grained control of neuroprosthetics, requiring neural signals of individual digits.
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