Axonal sprouting accompanies functional reorganization in adult cat striate cortex

Nature. 1994 Apr 21;368(6473):737-40. doi: 10.1038/368737a0.


Removal of sensory input from a focal region of adult neocortex can lead to a large reorganization of cortical topography within the deprived area during subsequent months. Although this form of functional recovery is now well documented across several sensory systems, the underlying cellular mechanisms remain elusive. Weeks after binocular retinal lesions silence a corresponding portion of striate cortex in the adult cat, this cortex again becomes responsive, this time to retinal loci immediately outside the scotoma. Earlier findings showed a lack of reorganization in the lateral geniculate nucleus and an inadequate spread of geniculocortical afferents to account for the cortical reorganization, suggesting the involvement of intrinsic cortical connections. We investigated the possibility that intracortical axonal sprouting mediates long-term reorganization of cortical functional architecture. The anterograde label biocytin was used to compare the density of lateral projections into reorganized and non-deprived cortex. We report here that structural changes in the form of axonal sprouting of long-range laterally projecting neurons accompany topographic remodelling of the visual cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Cell Division
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retina / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology


  • biocytin
  • Lysine