Brain keeps in touch with hand feeling even 35 years after limb lossOctober 10th, 2008 - 2:13 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Oct 10 (ANI): Four months after going through a successful hand transplant - 35 years after amputation in an industrial accident - a man has shown an emerging sense of touch - a development that could be seen in the former “hand area” of his brain.
The finding was made by a University of Oregon neuroscientist.
The 54-year-old man lost his limb 35 years ago in an industrial accident when he was just 19 and received the transplant in December 2006.
However, the finding is currently limited to the man’’s right palm of a donated hand, which was attached along with major nerves, bones, tendons, and muscle, in a surgery by Kleinert, Kutz and Associates Hand Care Center of Louisville, Ken.
But, now researchers hope to determine how the brain’’s map of the individual fingers will evolve with increasing sensation, said lead author Scott H. Frey, UO psychology professor and director of the Robert and Beverly Lewis Center for NeuroImaging.
Within only four months of surgery, initial touch sensations were reported on the thenar eminence, muscle on the palm just below the thumb, and on the lateral base of the thumb near the radial nerve.
They used functional magnetic resonance imaging to record brain activity while sensory stimuli were delivered to the hands and faces of the transplant recipient and four control participants.
It was found that sensory signals from the transplanted hand were being processed in the same brain regions that would have formerly handled sensations from the hand prior to amputation.
“This individual is very unique from a brain standpoint. We know that when someone loses a hand, there are reorganizational changes that take place in areas of the brain that have received sensory input from that hand. Yet, even after 35 years, the restoration of sensory input seems capable of recapturing the former territory of the hand. The capacity of the brain to reverse these changes is all the more striking in light of the fact that his brain was fully mature when the amputation occurred. We believe that this work may have far reaching implications for our understanding of brain plasticity in adulthood and neurorehabilitation,” said Frey.
While Frey said that they still do not no the exact mechanism behind the results, nor are they certain how long such changes continue, “but one way to think about it is that none of the brain’’s real estate is left vacant for very long.”
With time, the injured man reported gradual reductions of phantom sensations and pain often reported by amputees.
Recovery of sensation and the brain’’s systematic mapping of the hand-to-brain network, in this case, involve only gross hand map zones, referring to activity of major nerves that were reattached, not any peripheral connections to individual digits.
“We don”t know what that map will look like in the future as the nerves of his fingers regenerate and sensation improves,” said Frey.
The study is appearing online in advance of regular publication in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology. (ANI)
- Pioneering surgery helps paralysed man move hand - May 17, 2012
- Bio-engineered nerve-muscle connection to improve prosthetic hands - Oct 15, 2009
- Nerve cell memory holds key erasing pain - Feb 14, 2012
- Drug shows promise against debilitating condition of diabetes - Sep 11, 2010
- Exercise, caloric restriction may delay debilitating effects of aging - Aug 03, 2010
- Gentle touch may help multiple sclerosis patients - Oct 15, 2009
- Burns victim receives new hands in rare transplant - Aug 27, 2010
- First-ever total face transplant carried out in France - Jul 08, 2010
- Lizard enzyme could let humans regrow organs, limbs - Dec 07, 2010
- US mom receives revolutionary hand transplant surgery - Apr 20, 2011
- Biological basis of brain's ability for rapid adaptation revealed - Nov 23, 2010
- Bionic arm that relies on mind power to work - Feb 13, 2011
- How nerve cells unravel jumbled information - Nov 21, 2011
- Second full-face transplant performed in Boston - Apr 29, 2011
- Now, high-tech prosthetic arms that can be controlled with thoughts! - Feb 04, 2011
Tags: areas of the brain, beverly lewis, brain activity, brain regions, control participants, functional magnetic resonance, functional magnetic resonance imaging, hand transplant, initial touch, kleinert kutz, lateral base, limb loss, magnetic resonance imaging, psychology professor, radial nerve, reorganizational changes, sensory signals, sensory stimuli, thenar eminence, uo psychology