Input-increase and input-decrease types of cortical reorganization after upper extremity amputation in humans
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A plastic remodeling of regions in somatosensory cortex has previously been observed to occur in separate experimental paradigms in response to loss of somatosensory input and to increase in input. In this study, both types of cortical reorganization have been observed to occur concurrently in the same adult human nervous system as a result of a single intervention. Following upper extremity amputation, magnetic source imaging revealed that tactile stimulation of the lip evoked responses not only in the area of the somatosensory cortex corresponding to the face, but also within the cortical region that would normally correspond to the now absent hand. This “invasion” of the cortical amputation zone was accompanied by a significant increase in the size of the representation of the digits of the intact hand, presumably as a result of an increased importance of sensory stimulation consequent to increased dependence on that hand imposed by the loss of the contralateral extremity.
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