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The human brain adapts to the loss of sensory information by using visual cues

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A new study by researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States reveals evidence that bodily sensations can develop without the sense of touch.

Studies show that if someone loses tactile sensation and “proprioceptive sensation” (sense of body position) as an adult, they learn compensatory skills to move their bodies using visual cues and conscious thinking, or reasoning. There is a possibility.

However, those who have never experienced tactile or proprioceptive sensations can find faster, unconscious ways to process visual cues to move or orient themselves.

The University of Birmingham team collaborated with researchers at Bournemouth University and the University of Chicago and was published in the Experimental Brain Research.

The team collaborated with two individuals, Ian and Kim, who had a unique sensory experience. Ian completely lost his sense of touch and proprioception (sense of body position) under his neck after an autoimmune response to the disease. As a teenager. Kim was born without somatosensory and lacked the sensory nerve fibers needed to feel the body.

Researchers were interested in learning how the human brain adapts to the loss of sensory information, and how it compensates for the loss of sensory information in the first place.

There are many questions about how we shape our body and our senses. The body and self are very integrated and there is a physical sense of self when the eyes are closed, but in the absence of tactile and proprioceptive sensations, this is not the case.

Kim has a unique state of manipulating the visual, auditory, and vestibular systems. She has no tactile sensation or proprioception, and never. Ian has these sensations and has lost them, so he is in a very different situation. We were interested in whether a person could take non-visual visual information and give it somewhere in the brain responsible for creating the senses of your body. In essence, can you use it to get a feel for the body when looking at it? “

Peggy Mason, Professor of Neurobiology, University of Chicago

For the study, Kim and Ian came to the University of Birmingham lab with age-matched control subjects and designed to assess both the mental image of their bodies and their unconscious sensations. Participated in many experiments with the body of the universe. This includes reporting hand shape and size by moving the cursor over the screen to find landmarks such as fingertips and knuckles, and estimating “reaching” distance (arm length).

The study found many similarities and interesting differences in how Kim and Ian performed the experiment. For example, in hand experiments, Kim’s hand shape and size estimates were close to those of the control group, wider and shorter than the actual hands, while Ian’s estimates were much more accurate.

Chris Mior, a senior researcher at the University of Birmingham, a professor of motor neuroscience, said: A conscious process, he learned to use visual cues to continuously evaluate and monitor the environment. For Kim, the process is far more unconscious. She still uses visual information, but it’s a more intuitive and intuitive way. “

Co-author Jonathan Cole, a professor of clinical neurophysiology at Bournemouth University, adds: “You and I have unconscious habits and skills, but Ian always has to think about movement.”

These results indicate that if someone loses their adult tactile and proprioceptive sensations, they may be able to learn compensatory skills by exercising using visual input and conscious thinking. is showing. However, those who have never experienced somatosensory may be able to develop mechanisms to avoid lack of sensation and instead use unconsciously processed visual information to control movement. Hmm.

“What we can learn from now on is that we may not do it like everyone else, but we will find a way to create a body schema,” Mason said. “You will find a way to understand yourself. Kim has found a way. It’s not the way you or I do it, nor the way someone else on the planet might do it. It is absolutely important to have that feeling of self. You need to be somewhere. We are not the brains of a vat! “

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