Interhemispheric transfer of post-amputation cortical plasticity within the human somatosensory cortex

Kenneth F. Valyear, Benjamin A. Philip, Carmen M. Cirstea, Pin Wei Chen, Nathan A. Baune, Noah Marchal, Scott H. Frey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Animal models reveal that deafferenting forelimb injuries precipitate reorganization in both contralateral and ipsilateral somatosensory cortices. The functional significance and duration of these effects are unknown, and it is unclear whether they also occur in injured humans. We delivered cutaneous stimulation during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map the sensory cortical representation of the intact hand and lower face in a group of chronic, unilateral, upper extremity amputees (N = 19) and healthy matched controls (N = 29). Amputees exhibited greater activity than controls within the deafferented former sensory hand territory (S1f) during stimulation of the intact hand, but not of the lower face. Despite this cortical reorganization, amputees did not differ from controls in tactile acuity on their intact hands. S1f responses during hand stimulation were unrelated to tactile acuity, pain, prosthesis usage, or time since amputation. These effects appeared specific to the deafferented somatosensory modality, as fMRI visual mapping paradigm failed to detect any differences between groups. We conclude that S1f becomes responsive to cutaneous stimulation of the intact hand of amputees, and that this modality-specific reorganizational change persists for many years, if not indefinitely. The functional relevance of these changes, if any, remains unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116291
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


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