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 Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells
22.08.2017 | National University Health System

nachricht Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>