Touch improvement at the hand transfers to the face
Current Biology
CB24: R736-737
Muret D
Dinse HR
Macchione S
Urquizar C
Farne A
Reilly KT

The hand–face border is one of the most prominent features of the primate somatosensory cortex. A reduction of somatosensory input, following amputation or anesthesia, induces perceptual changes across this border that are explained by plastic competitive mechanisms 1, 2, 3 and 4. Whether cross-border plasticity can be induced by learning processes relying on increased somatosensory input has been unclear. Here we report that training-independent learning [5] improves tactile perception, not only at the stimulated index finger, but also at the unstimulated face. These findings demonstrate that learning-induced tactile improvement can cross the hand–face border, suggesting that facilitation-based plasticity may operate in the healthy human brain.