The cortical response to sensory deprivation in adult rats is affected by gonadectomy

Exp Brain Res. 2009 May;195(1):27-33. doi: 10.1007/s00221-009-1747-z. Epub 2009 Mar 11.


The present study investigated the effects of adult-onset sensory deprivation and gonadectomy. Adult male and female rats underwent unilateral transection of the infraorbital nerve. Half of the subjects had been gonadectomized 1 week prior to the nerve injury. We found that the areas of deprived barrels were significantly reduced when compared to barrels in the contralateral control hemisphere, and that this shrinkage was independent of sex and gonadectomy. We also found significant reductions in cytochrome oxidase staining intensity in the deprived barrels. While there were no differences in the magnitude of this effect between males and females, this effect was substantially more pronounced in the gonadectomized subjects. That is, gonadal hormones appeared to play a significant neuroprotective role in the metabolic response of the barrel cortex to deprivation. Thus, either males and females have a common neuroprotective hormonal pathway, or each has a sex-specific hormone pathway that serves an equivalent neuroprotective function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / injuries
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Castration*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Vibrissae / innervation