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New hand, same brain map

Neural activity of a hand-transplant recipient shows how the brain may reverse its own amputation-related changes

10:53am, October 9, 2008
David Savage probably never expected to look down and see someone else’s hand attached to his right arm. Neither did he anticipate using the strange appendage to illuminate how the brain works. But that’s precisely what the 56-year-old hand-transplant patient has done.

Four months after his December 2006 transplant, Savage’s partial sense of touch in the new hand activated the same brain area that would have controlled his original right hand 35 years earlier, say neuroscientist Scott Frey of the University of Oregon in Eugene and colleagues.

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