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Science. 1991 Jun 28;252(5014):1857-60.

Massive cortical reorganization after sensory deafferentation in adult macaques.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neuropsychology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


After limited sensory deafferentations in adult primates, somatosensory cortical maps reorganize over a distance of 1 to 2 millimeters mediolaterally, that is, in the dimension along which different body parts are represented. This amount of reorganization was considered to be an upper limit imposed by the size of the projection zones of individual thalamocortical axons, which typically also extend a mediolateral distance of 1 to 2 millimeters. However, after extensive long-term deafferentations in adult primates, changes in cortical maps were found to be an order of magnitude greater than those previously described. These results show the need for a reevaluation of both the upper limit of cortical reorganization in adult primates and the mechanisms responsible for it.

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