Could these brain changes explain phantom limb?

By Catharine Paddock Ph.D.: For More Info, Go Here…

New research could help to explain why some people report that they experience sensation in a missing limb, following amputation.

The changes occur in the sensorimotor areas, which are the parts of the brain that process touch and other sensory signals and control movement.

The researchers found two main changes in functional sensorimotor connectivity. One affected communication between the left and right sides of the brain, and the other affected only the side of the brain that lay on the opposite side of the body to the amputation.

The journal Scientific Reports has recently published a paper on the findings.

“The brain changes in response to amputation,” says first study author Ivanei E. Bramati, who is a medical physicist at the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Rio, “have been investigated for years in those patients who report the phantom limb pain.”

“However, our findings show that there is a functional imbalance, even in the absence of pain, in patients reporting only phantom sensations,” he adds.

The researchers found a “pronounced reduction” in functional connectivity between the two brain hemispheres in the individuals with amputation.

They also observed an increase in functional connectivity within the hemisphere of the brain that was on the opposite side to the amputation.

It seems, the team remarks, that limb amputation causes an imbalance in the organization of the brain’s functional network.

In addition, it appears that “pain is not critical” to the types of sensorimotor changes that occur after injury to limbs.

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