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How the Brain Compensates for Lost Limbs

Lose a limb? Your brain may change forever.

According to new research, in individuals who lose a limb in their lifetime, the brain re-maps itself, and uses the area that was once used to operate the lost limb for other parts of the body. Previously, it was thought that neighboring areas of the cerebral cortex of the lost limb were the only things affected, but it appears there’s a lot more complexity to the science of “remapping” (“Sensory and motor”, 2019).

To test this, researchers measured the brain activity of adults born without a hand, and tested their brain function when they moved other parts of their body. It was found that all parts activated the area that would be used for the hand (“Sensory and motor”, 2019).

“…the research team thinks that the remapping observed in the cerebral cortex may reflect a process that takes place in the basal ganglia, where the body map is condense, and therefore the hand region has many immediate neighbors… [this may also be] influenced by the way participants use their bodies in everyday life to compensate for the absence of a hand,” (“Sensory and motor”, 2019).

Reference: Society for Neuroscience. (2019, October 14). Sensory and motor brain plasticity is not limited by location: Findings provide insight into how the brain alters its body map. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2019 from

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