Extra fingers, often seen as useless, can offer major dexterity advantages

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An extra finger can be incredibly handy. Two people born with six fingers per hand can tie their shoes, adroitly manage phones and play a complicated video game — all with a single hand, a study shows.

These peoples superior dexterity, described June 3 in Nature Communications, suggests that instead of being seen as aberrations that ought to be surgically removed, extra fingers can bring benefits. The results also highlight how flexible the human brain can be, a feature that will be central to the design of brain-controlled robotic appendages.

For the study, bioengineer Etienne Burdet of Imperial College London and colleagues worked with a 52-year-old mother and her 17-year-old son, both born with six fingers on each hand. These extra fingers, positioned between the thumb and index finger, resemble thumbs in the versatile ways that they can move.

Brain scans and anatomical MRI scans revealed that the extra fingers are controlled by a dedicated brain system, along with muscles and tendons. That means that these extra fingers arent just along for the ride, controlled by the muscles that move the other fingers, as some doctors had thought.

SEEING SIX An extra finger on each hand, thought by some scientists to be useless, can allow people to single-handedly tie shoelaces, as well as to type and play video games in innovative ways.

These peoples brains had no trouble directing their extra fingers, the results show. Extra robotic fingers or other appendages controlled by a persons mind could bring similar increases in neural workloaRead More – Source

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