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Eur J Neurosci. 2002 Oct;16(7):1333-48.

Time course of motor cortex reorganization following botulinum toxin injection into the vibrissal pad of the adult rat.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Terapie Avanzate, Sezione di Fisiologia umana, Università di Ferrara, 44100 Ferrara, Italy.


The present experiment studies representation patterns in the motor cortex (M1) of adult rats, 1, 3, 6, and 12 days after unilateral injection of Botulinum Toxin (BTX) into the vibrissa pad. Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) was used to evidence changes in the representation over time and in the current thresholds required to evoke movements inside the disconnected vibrissa region. After 1 day, isolated as well as contiguous negative sites were observed within the motor cortex corresponding to the disconnected vibrissa region. Thereafter the percentage of unresponsive sites decreased so that after 6 days, the number of unresponsive sites was not significantly higher than those in the control hemispheres. Within the disconnected vibrissa region, electrical stimulation elicited forelimb, eye, ipsilateral vibrissa and neck movements. Following BTX injection, the enlargement of the forelimb representation into the disconnected vibrissa representation began during the first day and stabilized during the second week after injection. In the first days, stimulation thresholds in expanded forelimb sites were higher than those required for similar movement in normal M1 forelimb representation. These thresholds then declined so that in approximately 6 days they were similar to normal. There was no clear evidence that stimulation of sites in the medial part of disconnected vibrissa-cortex evoked eye movements during the first 6 days after BTX injection. After this time, thresholds required to evoke eye movement in expanded sites were generally similar to, and never higher than, those needed to evoke this movement in control sites. Intermingled ipsilateral vibrissa and neck movement occupies part of the medial vibrissa region. Over the 12 days, extension of the ipsilateral vibrissa representation shrank while the representation of neck movement remained unchanged. Throughout the entire time there was no change in the excitability of these sites and the thresholds remained higher than that needed to elicit the vibrissa movement normally represented in this cortical region. No significant differences in threshold were found over time for any of the other movement categories represented in M1. These results indicate that, over time, the new movements inside the disconnected vibrissa region develop differently in M1 following peripheral motor disconnection. The implications for mechanisms involved in cortical plasticity are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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