Correlation between patterns of horizontal connectivity and the extent of short-term representational plasticity in rat motor cortex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Plasticity of representational maps in adult cerebral cortex has been documented in both sensory and motor cortex, but the anatomical basis for cortical plasticity remains poorly understood. To investigate horizontal connectivity in primary motor cortex (M1) as a putative anatomical substrate for short-term, functional plasticity of adult motor cortical representations, a combination of electrical stimulation and biocytin labeling was used to examine pre-existing patterns of intrinsic connections in adult rat M1 in relationship to the pattern of reorganization of the motor movement map induced by transection of the contralateral facial nerve. Two hours after nerve cut, small, circumscribed regions of the forelimb representation expanded medially into territory previously devoted to the vibrissae representation. Outside of this novel, expanded forelimb region, no forelimb movement could be evoked from the former vibrissae representation at any time over the period of hours tested, thus representing silent cortex. Injections placed into vibrissae cortex representing the newly expanded forelimb representation gave rise to labeled axons and dense terminal fiber labeling which crossed the forelimb/vibrissae border and extended up to 1.2 mm within the low-threshold forelimb representation. In contrast, injections placed into silent vibrissae cortex gave rise to labeled axons and terminal boutons which remained mostly restricted to the original vibrissae representation, with only sparse projections that crossed into the low- threshold forelimb representation. Thus, these results suggest that the extent of short-term, functional reorganization of M1 induced within the first several hours following peripheral nerve cut is mediated, and constrained, by an anatomical framework of pre-existing, horizontal projections which traverse representation borders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


Dive into the research topics of 'Correlation between patterns of horizontal connectivity and the extent of short-term representational plasticity in rat motor cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this