Rapid functional plasticity of the somatosensory cortex after finger amputation

Academic Article


  • Recent research indicates that areas of the primary somatosensory (SI) and primary motor cortex show massive cortical reorganization after amputation of the upper arm, forearm or fingers. Most of these studies were carried out months or several years after amputation. In the present study, we describe cortical reorganization of areas in the ST of a patient who underwent amputation of the traumatized middle and ring fingers of his right hand 10 days before cortical magnetic source imaging data were obtained. Somatosensory-evoked magnetic fields (SEF) to mechanical stimuli to the finger tips were recorded and single moving dipoles were calculated using a realistic volume conductor model. Results reveal that the dipoles representing the second and fifth fingers of the affected hand were closer together than the comparable dipoles of the unaffected hand. Our findings demonstrate that neural cell assemblies in ST which formerly represented the right middle and ring fingers of this amputee became reorganized and invaded by neighbouring cell assemblies of the index and little finger of the same hand. These results indicate that functional plasticity occurs within a period of 10 days after amputation.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Weiss T; Miltner WHR; Huonker R; Friedel R; Schmidt I; Taub E
  • Start Page

  • 199
  • End Page

  • 203
  • Volume

  • 134
  • Issue

  • 2