Mechanisms underlying reorganization of fractured tactile cerebellar maps after deafferentation in developing and adult rats

Caroly Shumway, Josée Morissette, James M. Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Our previous studies showed that fractured tactile cerebellar maps in rats reorganize after deafferentation during development and in adulthood while maintaining a fractured somatotopy. Several months after deafferentation of the infraorbital branch of the trigeminal nerve, the missing upper lip innervation is replaced in the tactile maps in the granule cell layer of crus IIa. The predominant input into the denervated area is always the upper incisor representation. This study examined whether this reorganization was caused by mechanisms intrinsic to the cerebellum or extrinsic, i.e., occurring in somatosensory structures afferent to the cerebellum. We first compared normal and deafferented maps and found that the expansion of the upper incisor is not caused by a preexisting bias in the strength or abundance of upper incisor input in normal animals. We then mapped tactile representations before and immediately after denervation. We found that the pattern of reorganization observed in the cerebellum several months later is not caused by unmasking of a silent or weaker upper incisor representation. Both results indicate that the reorganization is not a result of subsequent growth or sprouting mechanism within the cerebellum itself. Finally, we compared postlesion maps in the cerebellum and the somatosensory cortex. We found that the upper incisor representation significantly expands in both regions and that this expansion is correlated, suggesting that reorganization in the cerebellum is a passive consequence of reorganization in afferent cerebellar pathways. This result has important developmental and functional implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2630-2643
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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