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Somatosens Mot Res. 1990;7(4):463-83.

Repetitive microstimulation alters the cortical representation of movements in adult rats.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School, Houston 77225.


In order to examine the effects of repetitive stimulation on functional cortical organization, standard intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) techniques were used to generate maps of movement representations in motor cortex of rat. After identification of caudal and rostral forelimb fields and adjacent vibrissae and neck fields, one or more representational borders were defined in greater detail. Then a microelectrode was introduced into one of these representational fields, and ICMS current pulses were delivered at a rate of 1/sec for 1 to 3 hr. Following repetitive ICMS, significant changes in movement representations were observed using current levels that were either suprathreshold or subthreshold for evoking the site-specific movement. Electromyographic activity could be evoked at suprathreshold and near-threshold current levels, but not at the subthreshold current levels used here. Significant border shifts ranged from 210 to 670 microns. In each case in which shifts occurred, there appeared to be expansion of the movement represented at the repetitively stimulated site. The effects were progressive and reversible. These results suggest that at least under these unusual experimental circumstances, large representational changes can be generated very rapidly within motor cortex in the absence of any evident peripheral feedback.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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