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Sarah Harding's picture

Retraining Neurons

Your idea about retraining neurons is very interesting.  With regards to phantom limbs, I've read about how people with amputated limbs sometimes feel as though their invisible arm (leg, finger, etc..) is uncomfortably clenched.  In order to relieve the pain of this, a mirror is placed in the location of the amputated limb.  In the situation of a missing arm, the subject looks in the mirror and then moves his other arm, thus "tricking" his brain into believing that he is moving the non-existant arm.  Could this be an example of "retraining" neurons?  It obviously doesn't strengthen them or help them to avoid damage, but I feel as though this therapy may help to empower more inhibitory neurons...to help the subject physically feel more comfortable.  If one is looking in the mirror, is this convincing enough for someone (such that the aforementioned man who can't walk without watching himself) to assume that they are looking at, and controlling an actual body part?  Can the deception of your mind be enough to create an action potential from a phantom limb?

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