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J Neurosci. 2005 Nov 2;25(44):10167-79.

Extensive cortical rewiring after brain injury.

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Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA.


Previously, we showed that the ventral premotor cortex (PMv) underwent neurophysiological remodeling after injury to the primary motor cortex (M1). In the present study, we examined cortical connections of PMv after such lesions. The neuroanatomical tract tracer biotinylated dextran amine was injected into the PMv hand area at least 5 months after ischemic injury to the M1 hand area. Comparison of labeling patterns between experimental and control animals demonstrated extensive proliferation of novel PMv terminal fields and the appearance of retrogradely labeled cell bodies within area 1/2 of the primary somatosensory cortex after M1 injury. Furthermore, evidence was found for alterations in the trajectory of PMv intracortical axons near the site of the lesion. The results suggest that M1 injury results in axonal sprouting near the ischemic injury and the establishment of novel connections within a distant target. These results support the hypothesis that, after a cortical injury, such as occurs after stroke, cortical areas distant from the injury undergo major neuroanatomical reorganization. Our results reveal an extraordinary anatomical rewiring capacity in the adult CNS after injury that may potentially play a role in recovery.

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