Functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) studies in rat brain show brain reorganization following peripheral nerve injury. Subacute neuroplasticity was observed 2 weeks following transection of the four major nerves of the brachial plexus. Direct stimulation of the intact radial nerve reveals a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation pattern in the forelimb regions of the sensory and motor cortices that is significantly different from that observed in normal rats. Results of this fMRI experiment were used to determine seed voxel regions for fcMRI analysis. Intrahemispheric connectivities in the sensorimotor forelimb representations in both hemispheres are largely unaffected by deafferentation, whereas substantial disruption of interhemispheric sensorimotor cortical connectivity occurs. In addition, significant intra- and interhemispheric changes in connectivities of thalamic nuclei were found. These are the central findings of the study. They could not have been obtained from fMRI studies alone-both fMRI and fcMRI are needed. The combination provides a general marker for brain plasticity. The rat visual system was studied in the same animals as a control. No neuroplastic changes in connectivities were found in the primary visual cortex upon forelimb deafferentation. Differences were noted in regions responsible for processing multisensory visual-motor information. This incidental discovery is considered to be significant. It may provide insight into phantom limb epiphenomena.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience