Monday, April 13, 2009

strange: woman truly senses a third translucent arm

Recently, Science Daily and reported the story of a 64-year-old woman who senses the presence of a third arm. Doctors at the Geneva University Hospital say that the her perceptions are credible.

The woman describes the arm as "pale, milky-white and translucent." The phantom limb, which appeared for the first time after a stroke, extends from the elbow of her left arm. She says she is able to "retrieve it" at will and can use it to touch various parts of her body. She only sees it when she calls for it.

Doctors have long known of the existence of "phantom limbs" or SPLs (supernumerary phantom limbs). They usually appear in the cases of someone who has had an amputation.

What is unique about this case, is that the woman can see, feel and "use" the arm.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) doctors can see that the woman's brain truly reacts as if it is seeing, using, and feeling the extra arm. For example, when she uses the arm to scratch her face, her brain's visual center reacts and she experiences very real relief.

In short, to her, the woman's third arm is as real and functional as her other two arms.

(The story was published by on April 1, but Science Daily reported the story on March 27. It is not a hoax or an April Fools joke.) story

cached science daily page

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