How does the brain know where you are?

Have you ever wondered how your brain knows where you are in space—or where your arms and legs are?  Or, for that matter, how does it know the foot from the hand?  New research has begun to answer these questions.


The scientific community used to believe that there was a map inside our brains that told the brain where the limbs of our bodies were.  However, with the new research that has been developed, the scientific community now believes differently.

The previous assumption has been challenged because when scientists approached testing this theory, they were very shocked at the results.  The scientists working on this study found that the brain could not reliably tell the difference between a hand or the foot if the arms or legs were crossed.  In these instances, they found out that the brain can even misinterpret the touch on a crossed arm or leg to the limb that it does not correspond with at all!

What does this mean for us?  Well, it means that the scientists who worked on this study have put us one step closer to understanding how the brain figures out what parts of the body are where in space.  This information could be very useful in the future.  There are many applications for this information, especially relating to people who have had amputations of limbs and still feel the presence of their limbs.  These sensations are called phantom pains.

Another application in the future could be a better understanding of neuropathy, or the feelings of pins and needles that occur with some diseases.  Yet another application could be a better understanding of why people who have had amputations continue to feel the pins and needles in a limb that isn’t there.  It is definitely an interesting way that we know now How the Brain Maps the Body.