The motor system has the ability to adapt to environmental constraints and injury to itself. This adaptation is often referred to as a form of plasticity allowing for livelong acquisition of new movements and for recovery after stroke. We are not sure whether learning and recovery work via same or similar neural mechanisms. But, all these processes require widespread changes within the matrix of the brain. Here, basic mechanisms of these adaptations on the level of cortical circuitry and networks are reviewed. We focus on the motor cortices because their role in learning and recovery has been investigated more thoroughly than other brain regions.