Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain holds internal map of body

26.07.2005


In a study published in the latest issue of Current Biology, University College London (UCL) scientists have shown that the human brain holds and continuously updates an internal map of the body. The UCL team hope their findings will help explain how the processes in the brain which create a coherent body map may go wrong in people with neurological or psychiatric disorders.



Using a body illusion to fool volunteers, UCL researchers found that volunteers’ brains rapidly adjusted the processing of touch information to match information from proprioception –the position to the limbs relative to the body.

The team from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience used a method called tendon vibration to distort volunteers’ sense of their own body. When the biceps tendon of the right arm was vibrated, volunteers felt within seconds that their right elbow was rotating away from the body, even though the arm was actually quite still. If the volunteers held their left index finger with their right hand while this happened they felt their left index finger getting longer, as they felt their arm move.


The team then tested how these bodily illusions rearranged the body’s sense of touch, While touching volunteers with two metal rods on the left index finger, scientists asked them to judge whether the distance between the rods was greater or smaller than the distance between two additional rods touched on the forehead. When tendon vibration made the index finger seem longer than it really was, volunteers overestimated the tactile distance on the index finger, relative to the forehead.

Professor Patrick Haggard says: “The brain has to combine information coming from different senses to produce a coherent sense of self. It is performing a constant juggling act in order to make sense of the different sensory inputs it receives.

“We know that the brain holds a long-term body image which specifies the shape and size of the limbs and which can slowly evolve through development till the body reaches its adult size. However, the stimulation our bodies receive from clothes and from the objects we touch changes all the time and the brain also needs to keep track of this. Our study shows that the brain has a more dynamic, short-term representation of the body – a constantly updating internal map - which gives us a sense of our body as a coherent self.

“We normally perceive our bodies as a coherent background to our mental life, but some patients with psychiatric disorders may have disorganised and unusual feelings about their own body. We hope that we can use our findings to understand how the brain continually recreates a coherent body map out of all the sensations it receives, and how this process may go wrong for some people.”

Jenny Gimpel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>