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Neuroscience. 2001;102(2):263-72.

The relationship of perceptual phenomena and cortical reorganization in upper extremity amputees.

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Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany.


In this study 16 unilateral upper extremity amputees participated in a comprehensive psychophysiological examination that included the assessment of painful and non-painful phantom and stump sensations, thermal and electric perception as well as two-point discrimination thresholds, the detailed analysis of referred sensation and the measurement of reorganizational changes in primary somatosensory cortex using neuroelectric source imaging. Reorganization of the primary somatosensory cortex was associated with increased habitual phantom limb pain, telescoping, non-painful stump sensations and painful referred sensation induced by painful stimulation. It was unrelated to non-painful phantom sensations, non-painful referred sensation elicited by painful or non-painful stimulation, painful referred sensation elicited by non-painful stimulation, perception thresholds and stump pain. These data substantiate the hypothesis that painful and non-painful phantom phenomena are mediated by different neural substrates.

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