Thalamic and cortical contributions to neural plasticity after limb amputation.

Florence SL, Hackett TA, Strata F
J Neurophysiol. 2000 83 (5): 3154-9

PMID: 10805710 · DOI:10.1152/jn.2000.83.5.3154

Little is known about the substrates for the large-scale shifts in the cortical representation produced by limb amputation. Subcortical changes likely contribute to the cortical remodeling, yet there is little data regarding the extent and pattern of reorganization in thalamus after such a massive deafferentation. Moreover, the relationship between changes in thalamus and in cortex after injuries of this nature is virtually unexplored. Multiunit microelectrode maps were made in the somatosensory thalamus and cortex of two monkeys that had long-standing, accidental forelimb amputations. In the deprived portion of the ventroposterior nucleus of the thalamus (VP), where stimulation to the hand would normally activate neurons, new receptive fields had emerged. At some recording sites within the deprived zone of VP, neurons responded to stimulation of the remaining stump of the arm and at other sites neurons responded to stimulation of both the stump and the face. This same overall pattern of reorganization was present in the deprived hand representation of cortical area 3b. Thus thalamic changes produced by limb amputation appear to be an important substrate of cortical reorganization. However, a decrease in the frequency of abnormal stump/face fields in area 3b compared with VP and a reduction in the size of the fields suggests that cortical mechanisms of plasticity may refine the information relayed from thalamus.

MeSH Terms (12)

Amputation Amputation Stumps Animals Cerebral Cortex Forelimb Macaca nemestrina Macaca radiata Neuronal Plasticity Physical Stimulation Skin Thalamus Touch

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