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J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8(2), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8020182

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

1
Department of Psychology, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Via dei Marsi 78, 00185 Rome, Italy
2
Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Fondazione Santa Lucia, Via Ardeatina 306, 00179 Rome, Italy
3
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London WC1N 3AR, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 January 2019 / Revised: 29 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 3 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Neuroscience)
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: phantom limb; somatotopy; brachial plexus; deafferentation rehabilitation; anesthetic block phantom limb; somatotopy; brachial plexus; deafferentation rehabilitation; anesthetic block
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Pazzaglia, M.; Leemhuis, E.; Giannini, A.M.; Haggard, P. The Homuncular Jigsaw: Investigations of Phantom Limb and Body Awareness Following Brachial Plexus Block or Avulsion. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 182.

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