Phantom lower limb as a perceptual marker of neural plasticity in the mature human brain

S. Aglioti, A. Bonazzi, F. Cortese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three lower limb amputees, who reported phantom sensations, referred somatic stimuli delivered to skin regions proximal to the stump to select points on the phantom limb. Stimuli on the rectum and anus (e.g. during defecation, and on genital areas (e.g. during sexual intercourse) induced analogous, although less precise, mislocation to the phantom limb. Although the representation of the stump in the somatosensory pathway is lateral to that of the amputated lower limb, both anus and genitals are mapped medially to the areas formerly subserving the amputated lower limb. Therefore the mislocalization phenomenon can be considered as a perceptual landmark of new functional connections between the deprived areas and the adjacent ones, thus suggesting a dynamic neural remodelling in the mature nervous system, which was previously considered as a static entity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1344
Publication statusPublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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