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Neuroscientist. 2006 Feb;12(1):67-79.

How can corticospinal tract neurons contribute to ipsilateral movements? A question with implications for recovery of motor functions.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


In this review, the authors discuss some recent findings that bear on the issue of recovery of function after corticospinal tract lesions. Conventionally the corticospinal tract is considered to be a crossed pathway, in keeping with the clinical findings that damage to one hemisphere, for example, in stroke, leads to a contralateral paresis and, if the lesion is large, a paralysis. However, there has been great interest in the possibility of compensatory recovery of function using the undamaged hemisphere. There are several substrates for this including ipsilaterally descending corticospinal fibers and bilaterally operating neuronal networks. Recent studies provide important evidence bearing on both of these issues. In particular, they reveal networks of neurons interconnecting two sides of the gray matter at both brainstem and spinal levels, as well as intrahemispheric transcallosal connections. These may form "detour circuits" for recovery of function, and here the authors will consider some possibilities for exploiting these networks for motor control, even though their analysis is still at an early stage.

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