Imprinting of idiosyncratic experience in cortical sensory maps: neural substrates of representational remodeling and correlative perceptual changes

Behav Brain Res. 2008 Sep 1;192(1):26-41. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.02.038. Epub 2008 Mar 6.


Over the past 30 years, extensive research has been conducted in the field of cortical plasticity, under the impetus of seminal studies showing that the mature brain retains a capacity to reorganize the morphological and functional architecture of its neural circuits in order to adapt to environmental changes and mediate functional recovery following injury. Much effort has been focused on determining how idiosyncratic experience translates into molecular, structural and physiological changes in the sensory and motor representations embedded within cortical networks. The wealth of data generated by a broad spectrum of experimental manipulations has allowed unprecedented progress in our understanding of the physiological processes and neuroplasticity mechanisms underlying cortical representational remodeling. The objective of the present review is to put various facets of cortical map plasticity into perspective so as to examine possible links between changes occurring at multiple scales of the neural organization of the mature brain. The main focus is on neural substrates that mediate the instructive influence of experience and behavioral context on cortical reorganization, and perceptual correlates of representational remodeling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / cytology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*