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Program detail

Thursday 25th July, 2019

17:15-18:00: KeyNote in Lecture Theatre, A01Obtaining and maintaining hand representation: lessons from alternative hands

Makin TR

Primates’ superior hand function and dexterity are partly owed to the detailed topographic organisation of the hand in primary somatosensory cortex (SI). I will ask how this organisation first emerges, and once established whether it can be updated due to altered motor control. I will first explore foot representation in individuals that use their feet for daily hand functions, and phantom representation in individuals with a missing hand. I will then examine the impact of changed SI input on hand representation, due to a pharmacological nerve block and motor augmentation via semi-intensive usage of a robotic extra thumb. Based on the collective evidence I will suggest that once obtained, hand representation is more resilient than previously considered. As such, input loss in itself is insufficient to cause changed hand representation. Instead, meaningful and extreme alterations in fingers co-use might reshape the cortical hand map.

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