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Obtaining and maintaining cortical hand representation as evidenced from acquired and congenital handlessness

Wesselink, DB; van den Heiligenberg, FM; Ejaz, N; Dempsey-Jones, H; Cardinali, L; Tarall-Jozwiak, A; Diedrichsen, J; (2019) Obtaining and maintaining cortical hand representation as evidenced from acquired and congenital handlessness. eLife , 8 , Article e37227. 10.7554/eLife.37227. Green open access

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Abstract

A key question in neuroscience is how cortical organisation relates to experience. Previously we showed that amputees experiencing highly vivid phantom sensations maintain cortical representation of their missing hand (Kikkert et al., 2016). Here, we examined the role of sensory hand experience on persistent hand representation by studying individuals with acquired and congenital hand loss. We used representational similarity analysis in primary somatosensory and motor cortex during missing and intact hand movements. We found that key aspects of acquired amputees’ missing hand representation persisted, despite varying vividness of phantom sensations. In contrast, missing hand representation of congenital one-handers, who do not experience phantom sensations, was significantly reduced. Across acquired amputees, individuals’ reported motor control over their phantom hand positively correlated with the extent to which their somatosensory hand representation was normally organised. We conclude that once cortical organisation is formed, it is remarkably persistent, despite long-term attenuation of peripheral signals.

Type: Article
Title: Obtaining and maintaining cortical hand representation as evidenced from acquired and congenital handlessness
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.37227
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.37227
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. Subject to a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Research advance, Neuroscience, Sensory deprivation, Neuroplasticity, Somatosensory cortex, Amputees, FMRI
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067484
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