Neural Substrates for the Effects of Rehabilitative Training on Motor Recovery After Ischemic Infarct

Science  21 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5269, pp. 1791-1794
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5269.1791


Substantial functional reorganization takes place in the motor cortex of adult primates after a focal ischemic infarct, as might occur in stroke. A subtotal lesion confined to a small portion of the representation of one hand was previously shown to result in a further loss of hand territory in the adjacent, undamaged cortex of adult squirrel monkeys. In the present study, retraining of skilled hand use after similar infarcts resulted in prevention of the loss of hand territory adjacent to the infarct. In some instances, the hand representations expanded into regions formerly occupied by representations of the elbow and shoulder. Functional reorganization in the undamaged motor cortex was accompanied by behavioral recovery of skilled hand function. These results suggest that, after local damage to the motor cortex, rehabilitative training can shape subsequent reorganization in the adjacent intact cortex, and that the undamaged motor cortex may play an important role in motor recovery.

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