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Explaining phantoms

Doctors used to think that nerves remaining in the stump of the amputated limb caused phantom limbs. These grow into nodules, which continue to send signals to the brain that seem to come from the missing limb. But treatments for phantom pain, which block signals from these nerves, do not get rid of the phantom limb. Some scientists think that the brain itself conjures up phantom limbs in those areas responsible for the senses, emotion, memory and 'self-recognition'.

Phantom limbs may be caused by nerves left in the stump, or by activity in the brain itself.
Phantom limbs may be caused by nerves left in the stump, or by activity in the brain itself.
Corbis

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