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Our brains have a detailed picture of our hands and fingers, and that persists even decades after an amputation, Oxford University researchers have found. The finding could have implications for the control of next generation prosthetics.

Team leader, Dr. Tamar Makin said: 'It has been thought that the hand 'picture' in the brain, located in the primary somatosensory cortex, could only be maintained by regular sensory input from the hand. In fact, textbooks teach that the 'picture' will be 'overwritten' if its primary input stops. If that was the case, people who have undergone hand amputation would show extremely low or no activity related to its original focus in that brain area- in our case, the hand. However, we also know that people experience phantom sensations from amputated body parts, to the extent that someone asked to move a finger can 'feel' that movement.

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