MIT Colloquium on the Brain and Cognition with Tamar Makin, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Building 46, 3002
43 VASSAR ST, Cambridge, MA 02139

The neural fingerprints of a missing hand: from phantoms to artificial limbs

Tamar Makin, Ph.D.


Following arm-amputation, brain areas that previously operated the hand will be freed-up, and could potentially be “recruited” to work for other body parts (brain reorganisation). I will present recent results and ideas about how the brain adapts to extreme changes in resources, due to hand loss and the need to pick up alternative behavioural strategies. I will explore the neural correlates of a range of "alternative hands", including extraordinarily dexterous foot usage, artificial limbs and supernumerary robotic fingers. Based on these findings I will challenge some of the basic textbook assumptions about the triggers and barriers of brain plasticity, and suggest an alternative framework for the process of brain reorganisation in the sensorimotor hand area.


I am a neuroscientist at UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. My main interest is in understanding how adaptive behaviour, such as prosthetic limb usage, drives brain plasticity. For this purpose, I integrate methods from the fields of neuroscience, experimental psychology and rehabilitation. My primary model for this work is studying individuals with a hand loss. I graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2009. I was then awarded several career development fellowships to establish my research program on brain plasticity in amputees at the University of Oxford, first as a Research Fellow and later as a Principle Investigator. In 2016 I joined the faculty of UCL to head the London Plasticity Lab:


The MIT Colloquium on the Brain and Cognition is a lecture series held weekly during the academic year and features a wide array of speakers from all areas of neuroscience and cognitive science research. The social receptions that follow these colloquia bring together students, staff, and faculty to discuss the talk, as well as other research activities within Building 46, at MIT, and around the world. This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. Colloquia are open to the community, and are held in MIT's Building 46, Room 3002 (Singleton Auditorium) at 4:00PM with a reception to follow in the Building 46 Atrium.

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Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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