Send to

Choose Destination
Annu Rev Neurosci. 2000;23:1-37.

Cortical and subcortical contributions to activity-dependent plasticity in primate somatosensory cortex.

Author information

Center for Neuroscience, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


After manipulations of the periphery that reduce or enhance input to the somatosensory cortex, affected parts of the body representation will contract or expand, often over many millimeters. Various mechanisms, including divergence of preexisting connections, expression of latent synapses, and sprouting of new synapses, have been proposed to explain such phenomena, which probably underlie altered sensory experiences associated with limb amputation and peripheral nerve injury in humans. Putative cortical mechanisms have received the greatest emphasis but there is increasing evidence for substantial reorganization in subcortical structures, including the brainstem and thalamus, that may be of sufficient extent to account for or play a large part in representational plasticity in somatosensory cortex. Recent studies show that divergence of ascending connections is considerable and sufficient to ensure that small alterations in map topography at brainstem and thalamic levels will be amplified in the projection to the cortex. In the long term, slow, deafferentation-dependent transneuronal atrophy at brainstem, thalamic, and even cortical levels are operational in promoting reorganizational changes, and the extent to which surviving connections can maintain a map is a key to understanding differences between central and peripheral deafferentation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center