There are two neuron-level mechanisms proposed to underlie neural plasticity: recruiting neurons nearby to support the lost function (ipsilesional plasticity) and uncovering latent pathways that can assume the function that was lost (contralesional plasticity). While both patterns have been demonstrated in patient groups following injury, the specific mechanisms underlying each mode of plasticity are poorly understood. In a retrospective case series of 13 patients, we utilize a novel paradigm that analyzes serial fMRI scans in patients harboring intrinsic brain tumors that vary in location and growth kinetics to better understand the mechanisms underlying these two modes of plasticity in the human primary motor cortex. Twelve patients in our series had some degree of primary motor cortex plasticity, an area previously thought to have limited plasticity. Patients harboring smaller lesions with slower growth kinetics and increasing distance from the primary motor region demonstrated recruitment of ipsilateral motor regions. Conversely, larger, faster-growing lesions in close proximity to the primary motor region were associated with activation of the contralesional primary motor cortex, along with increased activation of the supplementary motor area. These data increase our understanding of the adaptive abilities of the brain and may lead to improved treatment strategies for those suffering from motor loss secondary to brain injuries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology