Topographic organization is a key feature of human brain function, from visual, auditory, and somatosensory processing to numerosity and attention. How is topography affected in pathological states? To unravel this mystery, we scanned whole-body topographic representations under functional MRI in two unique patient populations and quantified continuity and signal power. In patients with sensory Brown-Séquard syndrome, only half of the body is impaired, enabling comparison of disturbed and nondisturbed body sides; in patients undergoing surgical repair, we compared topographies before and after intervention. In each individual patient, pathological processing was reflected by discontinuity of topographic maps rather than signal reduction. These findings highlight the importance of continuity in topographic organization and may serve as a biomarker for somatosensory pathologies.
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