The Homuncular Jigsaw: Investigations of Phantom Limb and Body Awareness Following Brachial Plexus Block or Avulsion

Mariella Pazzaglia, Erik Leemhuis, Anna Maria Giannini, Patrick Haggard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Many neuropsychological theories agree that the brain maintains a relatively persistent representation of one's own body, as indicated by vivid "phantom" experiences. It remains unclear how the loss of sensory and motor information contributes to the presence of this representation. Here, we focus on new empirical and theoretical evidence of phantom sensations following damage to or an anesthetic block of the brachial plexus. We suggest a crucial role of this structure in understanding the interaction between peripheral and central mechanisms in health and in pathology. Studies of brachial plexus function have shed new light on how neuroplasticity enables "somatotopic interferences", including pain and body awareness. Understanding the relations among clinical disorders, their neural substrate, and behavioral outcomes may enhance methods of sensory rehabilitation for phantom limbs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 3 2019

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