Large-scale plasticity of the human motor cortex

Neuroreport. 1995 Mar 27;6(5):742-4. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199503270-00009.


The adult primate brain is capable of modifying rapidly the size of cortical receptive fields or motor output modules in response to altered synaptic input. We used positron emission tomography (PET) to map the regional cerebral blood flow changes related to voluntary finger movements in patients with tumours occupying the hand area of motor cortex. All patients showed activations solely outside the tumour. Compared with the unaffected side, the activations were shifted by 9-43 mm either along the mediolateral body representation of motor cortex or into premotor or parietal somatosensory cortex. These results provide evidence that slowly developing lesions can induce large-scale reorganization that is not confined to changes within the somatotopic body representation in motor cortex.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed