May 29, 2007

Scratching the phantom itch.

From an article on neuroplasticity:
An amputee has a bizarre itch in his missing hand: unscratchable, it torments him. A neuroscientist finds that the brain cells that once received input from the hand are now devoted to the man’s face; a good scratch on the cheek relieves the itch. Another amputee has 10 years of excruciating “phantom” pain in his missing elbow. When he puts his good arm into a box lined with mirrors he seems to recognize his missing arm, and he can finally stretch the cramped elbow out. Within a month his brain reorganizes its damaged circuits, and the illusion of the arm and its pain vanish.

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

And I was feeling sorry for myself from all my weekend BBQ bug bites.

This is fascinating!

Bissage said...

I cried because I had no feet until I met a man who had a phantom itch.

weiwei said...

There is actually a fascinating book out on this called "Phantoms in the Brain" by V.S. Ramachandran. Very engrossing read

Christy said...

We have know this for years.

samuel said...

Hey Christy you may have known about this for years but other people might not have. New amputations occur every day. This is still useful information for some.