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Neuron. 2005 Apr 21;46(2):173-9.

The basal forebrain cholinergic system is essential for cortical plasticity and functional recovery following brain injury.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, Unviersity of California, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


A reorganization of cortical representations is postulated as the basis for functional recovery following many types of nervous system injury. Neuronal mechanisms underlying this form of cortical plasticity are poorly understood. The present study investigated the hypothesis that the basal forebrain cholinergic system plays an essential role in enabling the cortical reorganization required for functional recovery following brain injury. The results demonstrate that functional recovery following cortical injury requires basal forebrain cholinergic mechanisms and suggest that the basis for this recovery is the cholinergic-dependent reorganization of motor representations. These findings raise the intriguing possibility that deficits in cholinergic function may limit functional outcomes following nervous system injury.

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