Functional recovery of forelimb response capacity after forelimb primary motor cortex damage in the rat is due to the reorganization of adjacent areas of cortex

Neuroscience. 1995 Oct;68(3):793-805. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(95)00178-l.


Functional recovery after brain damage has been described frequently and different mechanisms have been proposed to account for the observed recovery. One possible mechanism involves the capacity of one part of the brain to take over the function of another. A possible area for this to take place is in the cerebral cortex, where a variety of reorganizational processes have been described after different manipulations. We show in the present study that the forelimb force and response capacity of the rat, which becomes highly impaired after the bilateral ablation of the forelimb primary motor cortex, is recovered when the animals receive an electrical stimulation in the ventral tegmental nucleus contingent to each forelimb response in the task. Microstimulation mapping of the cortical areas adjacent to the forelimb primary motor cortex revealed the appearance of an area located caudolaterally to the forelimb primary motor cortex, where forelimb movements could be evoked in recovered animals but to a lesser extent in non-recovered animals. A positive and significant correlation was observed between the size of the reorganized forelimb area and the behavioral performance of the animals. Ablation of the forelimb reorganized area in recovered animals reinstated the forelimb behavioral impairment, while the same lesion in normal animals had no effect on the behavioral performance. The results indicate that recovery after bilateral forelimb primary motor cortex ablation may be due to the organization of specific adjacent areas in the cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / injuries*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / injuries*
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Ventral Tegmental Area / physiology