Does the cortical representation of body parts follow both injury to the related sensory peripheral nerve and its regeneration?

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Abstract

A study was made of the borderline between the physiological representations of the digits (D2, D3 and D4) and sinus whiskers in the rat primary somatosensory cortex after a contralateral infraorbital nerve crush. Following the injury, the physiological representation of the digits of the contralateral forepaw extended posterolaterally, occupying the anterolateral part of the whisker region (posteromedial barrel subfield). The extended physiological representation of the digits, though somewhat shrunken, remained after the reappearance of whisker-evoked responses, forming an overlapping area between the obligate digit and whisker representations. The findings emphasize the importance of afferent inputs in modulating cortical organization, but show that a reversible change in a sensory input (nerve damage) does not result in a perfectly reversible change in cortical representation.

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