Injury-induced reorganization in adult auditory cortex and its perceptual consequences

Hear Res. 2000 Sep;147(1-2):188-99. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(00)00131-3.


Restricted cochlear lesions in adult animals result in a reorganization of auditory cortex such that the cortical region deprived of its normal input by the lesion is occupied by expanded representations of adjacent cochlear loci, and thus of the frequencies represented at those loci. Analogous injury-induced reorganization is seen in somatosensory, visual and motor cortices of adult animals after restricted peripheral lesions. The occurrence of such reorganization in a wide range of species (including simian primates), and across different sensory systems and forms of peripheral lesion, suggests that it would also occur in humans with similar lesions. Direct evidence in support of this suggestion is provided by a small body of functional imaging evidence in the somatosensory and auditory systems. Although such reorganization does not seem to have a compensatory function, such a profound change in the pattern of cortical activation produced by stimuli exciting peri-lesion parts of the receptor epithelium would be expected to have perceptual consequences. However, there is only limited psychophysical evidence for perceptual effects that might be attributable to injury-induced cortical reorganization, and very little direct evidence for the correlation between the perceptual phenomena and the occurrence of reorganization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / injuries*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiopathology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Cochlea / injuries
  • Cochlea / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss / physiopathology
  • Humans