It is now clear that the motor cortex of adult mammals is capable of widespread functional reorganization. After specific types of motor skill training, the cortical representations of the movements used to perform the task expand, invading adjacent motor representations. After peripheral nerve injury, representations of unaffected muscles expand, invading those of the denervated muscles. After focal cortical injury, representations in the uninjured, adjacent cortical tissue undergo widespread alterations. Specific changes are dependent upon the use of the affected limb during the postinjury period. It now appears likely that motor map alterability results from changes in synaptic efficacy of intrinsic horizontal connections within motor cortex. Taken together, these studies suggest that the neurophysiological circuitry underlying muscle and movement maps within primary motor cortex is continually remodeled throughout an individual's life. The functional organization of motor cortex is constantly reshaped by behavioral demands for the learning of new motor skills.
- Motor cortex
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