Prostheses as extensions of the body: Progress and challenges

Publication date: September 2018
Source:Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 92
Author(s): Maria Niedernhuber, Damiano G. Barone, Bigna Lenggenhager
Recent years have seen a surge of interest in the incorporation of artificial limbs. This research promises to provide individuals with sensorimotor disorders such as amputations with prostheses which feel like their own body part. While neuroscience made a leap towards uncovering the basic neurocognitive mechanisms of bodily self-consciousness, the development of incorporated prosthetic limbs still faces substantial challenges in basic neuroscience and in clinical reality. Here we critically examine recent findings on prosthesis incorporation to aid patient rehabilitation in the context of advances in cognitive and applied neuroscience as well as technology. To this end, we integrate results from fundamental and clinical neuropsychological research to outline how several crucial milestones will have to be passed to achieve the self-attribution of prostheses to one’s own body. We further discuss the implications of these results for clinical treatment and patients’ quality of life.