Brain’s reaction to hand transplant
When he was 19, David Savage lost his hand in a machine accident.
Thirty-five years later, he had a replacement hand installed.
Amazingly, the same region that controlled his hand when he had one
kicked right back into gear to deal with his new appendage. This
surprised scientists because other research has shown that once a limb
is gone, the associated brain region quickly picks up other duties.
From Science News:
When Savage had both hands, part of his right brain
responded to his left hand, and a corresponding part of his left brain
responded to his right hand. After the amputation, that same part of
his left brain would have been sensory-deprived and thus ready to adopt
duties of adjacent sensory areas, such as those for the right arm and
possibly his face.
Much animal and human research has documented that such neural
reorganization begins within hours of limb loss or debilitation…
“It’s remarkable that an original neural pathway for the hand can be
reinstated after years and years,” (Vanderbilt University
neuroscientist Jon) Kaas says.