Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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

'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.'
- Tamar Makin

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.

Read more on the University of Oxford website...

Similar stories

Finding out more about Parkinson’s by monitoring symptoms at home

Professor Chrystalina Antoniades explains how the COVID pandemic accelerated an innovation in one research project into Parkinson's Disease.

Insights into the molecular pathways of progressive multiple sclerosis

Text by Ian Fyfe for 'Nature Reviews Neurology'

Discovery of gene involved in chronic pain creates new treatment target

Our researchers have discovered a gene that regulates pain sensitisation by amplifying pain signals within the spinal cord. This is helping them to understand an important mechanism underlying chronic pain in humans, and provides a new treatment target.

Lymph nodes reveal more about mechanisms of autoimmunity

Two recent papers show that studying lymph nodes reveals details of the mechanisms of autoimmunity.

Multiple heart-related conditions linked to triple dementia risk, regardless of genetics

Having multiple conditions that affect the heart is linked to a greater risk of dementia than having high genetic risk, according to a large-scale new study.

NDCN research presented at Myasthenia Gravis conference

The 14th Quinquennial Myasthenia Gravis Federation of America International Conference was recently held in Miami with 450 delegates attending in person, including over 100 from industry.