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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Mar 1988; 85(6): 2003–2007.
PMCID: PMC279910

Rapid reorganization of adult rat motor cortex somatic representation patterns after motor nerve injury.


The potential for peripheral nerve injury to reorganize motor cortical representations was investigated in adult rats. Maps reflecting functional connections between the motor cortex and somatic musculature were generated with intracortical electrical stimulation techniques. Comparison of cortical somatotopic maps obtained in normal rats with maps generated from rats with a facial nerve lesion indicated that the forelimb and eye/eyelid representations expanded into the normal vibrissa area. Repeated testing from an electrode placed chronically in the motor cortex showed a shift from vibrissa to forelimb within hours after facial nerve transection. These comparatively quick changes in motor cortex representation pattern suggest that synaptic relations between motor cortex and somatic musculature are continually reshaped in adult mammals.

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