Postinfarct Cortical Plasticity and Behavioral Recovery

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Plasticity phenomena in the cerebral cortex after ischemic injury have been documented repeatedly over the past 2 decades both in animal models and in human stroke survivors. This review highlights many of the major neuroanatomic and neurophysiological changes that characterize poststroke plasticity in experimental animals. Spared regions adjacent to the infarct and far removed from the infarct undergo functional alterations that are modified by behavioral experience. Recent evidence is also reviewed, demonstrating that long-range intracortical pathways can be rerouted to completely novel territories. The implications of this new finding for understanding the brain’s capacity for recovery are discussed.

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