To translate touch, the brain can quickly rearrange its sense of the body

istance between the rods was greater or smaller than the distance between two additional rods touched on the forehead. When tendon vibration made the index finger seem longer than it really was, subjects overestimated the tactile distance on the index finger, relative to the forehead. The sense of touch was altered within seconds of applying the vibration, suggesting a very strong and fast link between the brain systems for touch and body position.

The observations showed that abnormal input into one of the body's sensory systems produced a rapid and profound change in another sensory system: The brain had changed the way it interpreted the signals from the sense of touch. These links between different bodily senses show that the brain constantly updates its internal map, and they shed light on the dynamic and flexible nature of the body map that is used to interpret each new perception.


Contact: Heidi Hardman
Cell Press

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