On the right hand of a 17-year-old boy, there is an extra finger. He controls it with his own muscles and tendons.
However, this isn’t as rare as it seems. His mom was also born with an extra digit, which is another word for a finger on each hand. An extra digit can be amazingly handy. People with six fingers can tie their shoes, manage their phones, and play complicated video games just with one hand. The mom and her son have had to adapt to using their utensils differently, but it seems that they have figured it out.
Studies show how flexible the brain can be. This information has helped Etienne Burdet understand how the brain might be able to control robotic appendages. Burdet is a bioengineer at the Imperial College in London, England. He and his team worked with the 52-year-old woman and her 17-year-old son. They wanted to see how the brain and extra fingers worked together. Their sixth finger was located between the index and thumb finger.
People who have six digits give scientists like Burdet a good idea about making robotic limbs. He found that the brain and the body adapt together. His work is important for people with extra digits and robotic modifications.