Acute plasticity in the human somatosensory cortex following amputation

David Borsook, Lino Becerra, Scott M Fishman, Annabel Edwards, Candice L. Jennings, Milan Stojanovic, Lito Papinicolas, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, R. Gilberto Gonzalez, Hans Breiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


WE studied a patient after amputation of an arm and found that in less than 24 h stimuli applied on the ipsilateral face were referred in a precise, topographically organized, modality-specific manner to distinct points on the phantom. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) performed one month later showed that brush-evoked activity in the brain demonstrates objective signal changes which correlate with perceptual changes in the phantom hand. This finding in humans corresponds to the observations of immediate plasticity in cortical pathways described in animals, including primates. The results suggest that reorganization of sensory pathways occurs very soon after amputation in humans, potentially due to the unmasking of ordinarily silent inputs rather than sprouting of new axon terminals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1017
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 20 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Amputation
  • Cortical plasticity
  • Pain
  • Phantom
  • Somatotopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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