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Using artificial limbs

Arm amputation has a devastating impact on quality of life and employment in individuals who are typically young and healthy. The use of an artificial limb can play an important role in improving quality of life. While tremendous resources are dedicated to aiding amputees through the development of sophisticated prosthetic limbs, many upper limb amputees elect not to use prosthetics. What factors contribute to the successful use of an artificial limb?

Here, we utilise neuroimaging to investigate how best to increase prosthesis skill and satisfaction. We hypothesise that successful prosthetic limb usage depends in part on individuals’ ability to incorporate the prosthetic limb into their body representation in the brain. To address this question, we use a wide range of techniques, such as fMRI, psychophysics, behavioural experiments, and physiological measurements. By better understanding how the brain successfully represents prosthetic limbs, we hope to shape neurorehabilitation strategies to improve prostheses usage.


Related publications:

Makin, T. R., Cramer, A. O., Scholz, J., Hahamy, A., Slater, D. H., Tracey, I., & Johansen-Berg, H. (2013). Deprivation-related and use-dependent plasticity go hand in hand. eLife2.

Gallivan, J. P., McLean, D. A., Valyear, K. F., & Culham, J. C. (2013). Decoding the neural mechanisms of human tool use. eLife, 2. 



David Henderson-Slater, Oxford Centre for Enablement, Oxford University Hospitals (NHS)

Jody Culham, Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario

Aldo Faisal, Brain & Behaviour Lab, Imperial College London

 Peter Brugger, Neuroscience Centre, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland