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Nature. 1987 Jan 8-14;325(7000):151-3.

Dynamic receptive field plasticity in rat spinal cord dorsal horn following C-primary afferent input.


The central terminals of cutaneous primary afferent neurons are spatially ordered in the dorsal horn in a highly organized fashion such that a point-to-point map represents the body surface. This afferent terminal somatotopic map correlates with the map of the receptive fields of the cells on which they terminate. The location, size and modality of the cutaneous receptive fields of dorsal horn neurons necessarily depend upon the anatomical presence of afferent nerve fibres which deliver information from the periphery, directly or indirectly, to the cells. However the receptive field size and modality of a cell do not depend only on anatomical connections. Excitatory and inhibitory interneurons, descending influences and facilitations or depressions of synaptic contacts can alter receptive field properties. Here we show that prolonged and substantial cutaneous receptive field changes can be produced by brief inputs from peripheral unmyelinated afferent fibres.

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