Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Ramachandran and the plastic brain.
John Colapinto writes a New Yorker article on Vilayanur Ramachandran, whose work I have mentioned several times (actually, in six postings...enter Ramachandran in the search box in the left column to bring them up.) It is a biographical account, describing Ramachandran's professional development, and also describes an interesting syndrome known as apotemnophilia, the compulsion to have a healthy limb amputated. It appears to result from damage to the right superior parietal lobe which causes it to fail in assembling a normal body image for the body part perceived as alien, wanting amputation. Just as was the case with phantom limb pain and stroke induced paralysis, Ramachandran found that use of a simple mirror to differently present a body part could alleviate the symptoms. The article also describes work which suggests a link between autism and defects in the mirror neuron system.