Supernumerary Phantom Limb Confirmed
Physicians at Geneva University Hospital have confirmed what may be the first instance of a supernumerary phantom limb that can be moved, felt and seen by the patient.
The patient had apparently suffered a stroke; the additional phantom limb appeared several days later. Dr. Asaid Khateb of the hospital's experimental neurophysiology laboratory used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to check the woman's claims.
In this case, the investigations revealed that the woman actually experienced what she described.
Researchers instructed the woman to move her right hand. As expected, the motor cortex and visual processing areas in the left side of her brain became mobilised.
The same effects were observed to a lesser extent when the woman simply imagined moving her right hand. Imaginary movements of the woman's paralysed left hand prompted the same activity in the brain, but on the right side.
But when doctors asked her to move her phantom arm, her brain reacted as though the arm really existed and could be moved. In addition, the patient's visual cortex was also activated, indicating the she actually saw the imaginary limb.
And when she was instructed to scratch her cheek, regions of the brain relating to touch were activated.
"Existing evidence from stroke-elicited SPLs convincingly implicates the mismatch between the subject's well-established sensorimotor representations and a suddenly aberrant pattern of communication between the brain and the paralysed limb," the authors wrote.
Although the phenomenon of "phantom limbs" has been well-known throughout human history, the name was given in the 1870's by physicians attending the many amputees from the Civil War. Most amputees feel pain or other sensation in their 'missing limb.' In this case, however, the patient has created the idea of an additional, or supernumerary, phantom limb, which is very rare. Doctors have now used fMRI to confirm that the patient truly feels as if she has an additional limb that can interact with the rest of her body image.
The finding has been published in the Annals of Neurology.
Interesting work is being done using MRI technology to actually visualize the brain's contents; take a look at Spatial Memories Seen In Hippocampus fMRI.
Although this is not a predictive sf idea, fans recall the psychic arm of Gil Hamilton from the Known Space universe stories created by Larry Niven (I think that Death by Ecstasy  was the first). Gil Hamilton loses his right arm in an asteroid mining explosion; he eventually develops a spectral "arm" able to manipulate the external environment.
From Doctors confirm woman's imaginary third arm; thanks to Chris Johnston for sending in the tip and the reference.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/13/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )
Related News Stories -
Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue." - Clifford Simak, 1961
Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1963.
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
Drywall Robot Looking For Sheetrock
Sheetrockers have sure changed since my day.
Ford's Autonomous Cabs 'Transportation As A Service'
'He was glad to crawl into his autocab and close the cover.'
Sex In Driverless Cars?
'...admirable for petting.'
Amazing Kepler Space Telescope Decommissioned By NASA
'Thus it came about that the search for a planetiferous sun... was not unduly prolonged...'
ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'
Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched whatever terrain the goggles showed me...'
Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'
Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'
FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'
Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."
Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'
Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'
Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'
LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'
ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories