This article reviews the potential use of visual feedback, focusing on mirror visual feedback, introduced over 15 years ago, for the treatment of many chronic neurological disorders that have long been regarded as intractable such as phantom pain, hemiparesis from stroke and complex regional pain syndrome. Apart from its clinical importance, mirror visual feedback paves the way for a paradigm shift in the way we approach neurological disorders. Instead of resulting entirely from irreversible damage to specialized brain modules, some of (...) them may arise from short-term functional shifts that are potentially reversible. If so, relatively simple therapies can be devised—of which mirror visual feedback is an example—to restore function. (shrink)
��Grapheme-color synaesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which particular graphemes, such as the numeral 9, automatically induce the simultaneous perception of a particular color, such as the color red. To test whether the concurrent color sensations in graphemecolor synaesthesia are treated as meaningful stimuli, we recorded event-related brain potentials as 8 synaesthetes and 8 matched control subjects read sentences such as ‘‘Looking very clear, the lake was the most beautiful hue of 7.’’ In synaesthetes, but not control subjects, congruous graphemes, (...) compared with incongruous graphemes, elicited a more negative N1 component, a less positive P2 component, and a less negative N400 component. Thus, contextual congruity of synaesthetically induced colors altered the brain response to achromatic graphemes beginning 100 ms postonset, affecting pattern-recognition, perceptual, and meaning-integration processes. The results suggest that grapheme-color synaesthesia is automatic and perceptual in nature and also suggest that the connections between colors and numbers are bidirectional. (shrink)
Synesthesia is a condition in which stimulation of one sensory modality causes unusual experiences in a second, unstimulated modality. Although long treated as a curiosity, recent research with a combination of phenomenological, behavioral, and neuroimaging methods has begun to identify the cognitive and neural basis of synesthesia. Here, we review this literature with an emphasis on grapheme-color synesthesia, in which viewing letters and numbers induces the perception of colors. We discuss both the substantial progress that has been made in the (...) past ﬁfteen years and some open questions. In particular, we focus on debates in the ﬁeld relating to the neural basis of synesthesia, including the relationship between synesthesia and attention and the role of meaning in synesthetic colors. We propose that some, but probably not all, of these differences can be accounted for by differences in the synesthetes studied and discuss some methodological implications of these individual differences. (shrink)
Summary Ideomotor apraxia is a cognitive disorder in which the patient loses the ability to accurately perform learned, skilled actions. This is despite normal limb power and coordination. It has long been known that left supramarginal gyrus lesions cause bilateral upper limb apraxia and it was proposed that this area stored a visualkinaesthetic image of the skilled action, which was translated elsewhere in the brain into the pre-requisite movement formula. We hypothesise that, rather than these two functions occurring separately, both (...) are complementary functions of chains of ‘‘mirror neurons’’ within the left inferior parietal lobe. We go on to propose that this neural mechanism in the supramarginal gyrus and its projection zones, which originally evolved to allow the creation of a direct map between vision and movement, was subsequently exapted to allow other sorts of cross-domain mapping and in particular those sorts of abstract re-conceptualisation, such as metaphor, that make mankind unique. (shrink)
Several recent lines of inquiry have pointed to the amygdala as a potential lesion site in autism. Because one function of the amygdala may be to produce autonomic arousal at the sight of a signi¢cant face, we compared the responses of autistic children to their mothers’ face and to a plain paper cup. Unlike normals, the autistic children as a whole did not show a larger response to the person than to the cup. We also monitored sympathetic activity in autistic (...) children as they engaged in a wide range of everyday behaviours. The children tended to use self-stimulation activities in order to calm hyper-responsive activity of the sympathetic (`¢ght or £ight’) branch of the autonomic nervous system. A small percentage of our autistic subjects had hyporesponsive sympathetic activity, with essentially no electrodermal responses except to self-injurious behaviour. We sketch a hypothesis about autism according to which autistic children use overt behaviour in order to control a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system and suggest that they have learned to avoid using certain processing areas in the temporal lobes. (shrink)
Here we outline a simple method of using two mirrors which allows one to stand outside oneself. This method demonstrates that registration of vision with touch and proprioception is crucial for the perception of the corporeal self. Our method may also allow the disassociation of taste from touch, proprioception, and movement.
A t ﬁrst glance you might not noorder, which afﬂicts about 0.5 percent of tice anything odd on meeting a American children. Neither researcher young boy with autism. But if had any knowledge of the other’s work, you try to talk to him, it will and yet by an uncanny coincidence each quickly become obvious that gave the syndrome the same name: autism, something is seriously wrong. He may not which derives from the Greek word autos, make eye contact with (...) you; instead he may meaning “self.” The name is apt, because avoid your gaze and ﬁdget, rock his body the most conspicuous feature of the disorto and fro, or bang his head against the der is a withdrawal from social interacwall. More disconcerting, he may not be tion. More recently, doctors have adopted able to conduct anything remotely resemthe term “autism spectrum disorder” to bling a normal conversation. Even though make it clear that the illness has many rehe can experience emotions such as fear, lated variants that range widely in severity rage and pleasure, he may lack genuine but share some characteristic symptoms. empathy for other people and be oblivious Ever since autism was identiﬁed, reto subtle social cues that most children searchers have struggled to determine would pick up effortlessly. what causes it. Scientists know that sus- In the 1940s two physicians—Americeptibility to autism is inherited, although.. (shrink)
First Published on: 21 June 2007 To cite this Article: Ramachandran, Vilayanur S., McGeoch, Paul D., Williams, Lisa and Arcilla, Gerard (2007) 'Rapid Relief of Thalamic Pain Syndrome Induced by Vestibular Caloric Stimulation', Neurocase, 13:3, 185 - 188 To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/13554790701450446 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13554790701450446..
Subjects perceived touch sensations as arising from a table (or a rubber hand) when both the table (or the rubber hand) and their own real hand were repeatedly tapped and stroked in synchrony with the real hand hidden from view. If the table or rubber hand was then ‘injured’, subjects displayed a strong skin conductance response (SCR) even though nothing was done to the real hand. Sensations could even be projected to anatomically impossible locations. The illusion was much less vivid, (...) as indicated by subjective reports and SCR, if the real hand was simultaneously visible during stroking, or if the real hand was hidden but touched asynchronously. The fact that the illusion could be significantly diminished when the real hand was simultaneously visible suggests that the illusion and associated SCRs were due to perceptual assimilation of the table (or rubber hand) into one’s body image rather than associative conditioning. These experiments demonstrate the malleability of body image and the brain’s remarkable capacity for detecting statistical correlations in the sensory input. (shrink)
Summary Apotemnophilia, or body integrity image disorder (BIID), is characterised by a feeling of mismatch between the internal feeling of how one’s body should be and the physical reality of how it actually is. Patients with this condition have an often overwhelming desire for an amputation- of a specific limb at a specific level. Such patients are not psychotic or delusional, however, they do express an inexplicable emotional abhorrence to the limb they wish removed. It is also known that such (...) patients show a left-sided preponderance for their desired amputation. Often they take drastic action to be rid of the offending limb. Given the left-sided bias, emotional rejection and specificity of desired amputation, we suggest that there are clear similarities to be drawn between BIID and somatoparaphrenia. In this rare condition, which follows a right parietal stroke, the patient rejects (usually) his left arm as ‘‘alien’’. We go on to hypothesis that a dysfunction of the right parietal lobe is also the cause of BIID. We suggest that this leads to an uncoupling of the construct of one’s body image in the right parietal lobe from how one’s body physically is. This hypothesis would be amenable to testing by response to cold-water vestibular caloric stimulation, which is known to temporarily treat somatoparaphrenia. It could also be investigated using functional brain imaging and skin conductance response. If correct our hypothesis not only suggests why BIID arises, but also, in caloric stimulation a therapeutic avenue for this chronic and essentially untreatable condition. (shrink)
Summary Transsexuals are individuals who identify as a member of the gender opposite to that which they are born. Many transsexuals report that they have always had a feeling of a mismatch between their inner gender-based ‘‘body image’’ and that of their body’s actual physical form. Often transsexuals undergo gender reassignment surgery to convert their bodies to the sex they feel they should have been born. The vivid sensation of still having a limb although it has been amputated, a phantom (...) limb, was first described by Weir Mitchell over a century ago. The same phenomenon is also occurs after amputation of the penis or a breast. Around 60% of men who have had to have their penis amputated for cancer will experience a phantom penis. It has recently been shown that a significant factor in these phantom sensations is ‘‘cross-activation’’ between the de-afferented cortex and surrounding areas. Despite this it also known that much of our body image is innately ‘‘hard-wired’’ into our brains; congenitally limbless patients can still experience phantom sensations. We hypothesise that, perhaps due to a dissociation during embryological development, the brains of transsexuals are ‘‘hard-wired’’ in manner, which is opposite to that of their biological sex. We go on to predict that male-to-female transsexuals will be much less likely to experience a phantom penis than a ‘‘normal’’ man who has had his penis amputated for another reason. The same will be true of female-to-male transsexuals who have had breast removal surgery. We also predict that some female-to-male transsexuals will have a phantom penis even although there is not one physically there. We believe that this is an easily testable hypothesis, which, if correct, would offer insights into both the basis of transsexuality and provide farther evidence that we have a gender specific body image, with a strong innate component that is ‘‘hard-wired’’ into our brains. This would furnish us with a better understanding the mechanism by which nature and nurture interact to link the brain-based internal body image with external sexual morphology.. (shrink)
How the brain constructs one's inner sense of gender iden-tity is poorly understood. On the other hand, the phenomenon of phantom sensations-- the feeling of still having a body-part after amputation--has been much studied. Around 60% of men experience a phantom penis post-penectomy. As transsexuals report a mismatch between their inner gender identity and that of their body, we won-dered what could be learnt from this regarding innate gender-specific body image. We surveyed male-to-female transsexuals regarding the incidence of phantoms post-gender (...) reassignment surgery. Addition-ally, we asked female-to-male transsexuals if they had ever had the sensation of having a penis when there was not one physically there. In post-operative male-to-female transsexuals the incidence of phan-tom penises was significantly reduced at 30%. Remarkably, over 60% of female-to-male transsexuals also reported phantom penises. We explain the absence/presence of phantoms here by postulating a mis-match between the brain's hardwired gender-specific body image and the external somatic gender. Further studies along these lines may provide penetrating insights into the question of how nature and nur-ture interact to produce our brain-based body image. (shrink)
Anydomainofscientificresearchhasitssustainingorthodoxy. Thatis, research on a problem, whether in astronomy, physics, or biology, is con- ducted against a backdrop of broadly shared assumptions. It is these as- sumptionsthatguideinquiryandprovidethecanonofwhatisreasonable-- of what "makes sense." And it is these shared assumptions that constitute a framework for the interpretation of research results. Research on the problem of how we see is likewise sustained by broadly shared assump- tions, where the current orthodoxy embraces the very general idea that the business of the visual system is to (...) create a detailed replica of the visual world, and that it accomplishes its business via hierarchical organization and by operatingessentiallyindependently of other sensorymodalitiesas well as independently of previous learning, goals, motor planning, and motor execution. (shrink)