Differences in sensory and motor cortical organization following brain injury early in life

Ann Neurol. 2001 Mar;49(3):320-7.


There have been a number of physiological studies of motor recovery in hemiplegic cerebral palsy which have identified the presence of novel ipsilateral projections from the undamaged hemisphere to the affected hand. However, little is known regarding the afferent projection to sensory cortex and its relationship to the reorganized cortical motor output. We used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the corticomotor projection to the affected and unaffected hands in a group of subjects with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, and also performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of the patterns of activation in cortical motor and sensory areas following active and passive movement of the hands. Both TMS and fMRI demonstrated a normal contralateral motor and sensory projection between the unaffected hand and the cerebral hemisphere. However, in the case of the affected hand, the TMS results indicated either a purely ipsilateral projection or a bilateral projection in which the ipsilateral pathway had the lower motor threshold, whereas passive movement resulted in fMRI activation in the contralateral hemisphere. These results demonstrate that there is a significant fast-conducting corticomotor projection to the affected hand from the ipsilateral hemisphere in this group of subjects, but that the predominant afferent projection from the hand is still directed to the affected contralateral hemisphere, resulting in an interhemispheric dissociation between afferent kinesthetic inputs and efferent corticomotor output. The findings indicate that there can be differences in the organization of sensory and motor pathways in cerebral palsy, and suggest that some of the residual motor dysfunction experienced by these subjects could be due to an impairment of sensorimotor integration at cortical level as a result of reorganization in the motor system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors