Spinal Cord Plasticity Induced by Peripheral Nerve Injury and Some Consequences for Sensory Dysfunction

  • Marshall Devor
Part of the Wenner-Gren Center International Symposium Series book series (EMISS, volume 12)


When a nerve is out, the CNS loses access to sensory information from a corresponding portion of the periphery. In addition to this loss of input, however, nerve injury also initiates several positive, and less generally appreciated processes. These include the creation of spurious afferent inputs, and the induction of CNS changes which may profoundly distort the neural processing of both spurious and remaining true signals.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brown, A.G. (1981). Organization in the Spinal Cord. Springer Verlag, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Calvin, Wm. H., Devor, M., Howe, J.F., (1982). Can neuralgias arise from minor demyelination? Spontaneous firing, mechanosensitivity and afterdischarge from conducting axons. Expt. Neurol., 75, 755–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cronholm, B. (1951). Phantom limbs in amputees. Acta. Psychiat. Neurol. Scand., Suppl. 72, 1–310Google Scholar
  4. DeSantis, M., Duckworth, J.W. (1982). Properties of primary afferent neurons from muscle which are spontaneously active after a lesion of their peripheral processes. Expt. Neurol., 75, 261–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Devor, M,. (1983a). The pathophysiology and anatomy of damaged nerve. In: Textbook of Pain. (eds. P.D. Wall., R. Melzack.,) Churchill Livingston, London, In PressGoogle Scholar
  6. Devor, M. (1983b). Nerve pathophysiology and mechanisms of pain in causalgia. J. Autonom. Nerv. Syst., 7, 371–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Devor, M. (1983c). Plasticity of spinal cord somatotopy in adult mammals: Involvement of relatively ineffective synapses. In: Nervous System Regeneration. (eds. A.-M. Giuffrida-Stella, B. Haber, G. Hashim, J.R., Perez -Polo) Alan R. Liss, New York, In pressGoogle Scholar
  8. Devor, M., Claman, D. (1980). Mapping and plasticity of acid phosphatase afferents in the rat dorsal horn. Brain Res., 190, 17–28PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Devor, M., Bernstein, J.J. (1982). Abnormal impulse generation in neuromas: Electrophysiology and ultrastructure. In: Abnormal Nerves and Muscles as Impulse Generators. (eds. J. Ochoa and Wm. Culp)Oxford University Press, New York. pp. 363–380Google Scholar
  10. Devor, M., Merrill, E., Wall, P.D. (1977). Dorsal horn cells responding to stimulation of distant dorsal roots. J. physiol., 270, 519–531PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Devor, M., Schonfeld, O., Seltzer, Z., Wall, P.D. (1979). Two modes of cutaneuus reinnervat1on following peripheral nerve injury. J. Comp. Neurol., 185, 211–220PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Devor, M., Wall, P.D., (1978). Reorganization of the spinal cord sensory map after peripheral nerve injury. Nature, 276, 75–76PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Devor, M., Wall, P.D. (1981a). The effect of peripheral nerve injury on receptive fields of cells in the cat spinal cord. J. Comp. Neurol., 199, 277–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Devor, M., Wall, P.D. (1981b). Plasticity in the spinal cord sensory map following peripheral nerve injury in ruts. J. Neurosof., 1, 679–684Google Scholar
  15. Dostrovsky, J.D., Ball, G.J., Hu, J.W., Sessle, B.J. (1982). Functional changes associated with partial tooth pulp removal in neurons of the trigem1nal spinal tract nucleus, and their clinical implications. In: Anatomical, Physiological and Pharmacological Aspects of Trigeminal Pain. (eds. B. Mattews and R.G. Hill ). Excerpta Medica, Amsterdam. Pp. 293–310Google Scholar
  16. Egger, M.D., Freeman, N.C.G., Proshansky, E. (1981). The significance of laminar arrangement. In: Spinal Cord (eds. A.G. Brown and M. Rethelyi) Scottish Academic Press, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  17. Goldberger, M.E., Murray, M., (1974). Restitution of function and collateral sprouting in the cat spinal cord: The deafferented animal. J. Comp., Neurol., 158, 37–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haber, W.B. (1955). Effects of loss of limb on sensory functions. J. psychol, 40, 115–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Howe, J.F. (1983). Phantom limb pain - a re-afferentation syndrome. Pain, 15, 101–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jackson, P.C., Diamond, J. (1981). Regenerating axons reclaim sensory targets from collateral nerve sprouts. Science, 214, 926–928PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koerber, H.R., Brown, P.B. (1982). Somatotopic organization of hindlimb cutaneous nerve projections to cat dorsal horn. J. Neurophysiol., 48, 418–489Google Scholar
  22. Lisney, S.J.W. (1983). Changes in the somatotopic organization of the cat lumbar spinal cord following peripheral nerve transection and regeneration. Brain Res., 259, 31–39PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lisney, S.J.W., Devor, M. (1983). Interactions between fibers in damaged peripheral nerve in the rat. In PressGoogle Scholar
  24. Liu, C.N., Chambers, W.W. (1958). Intraspinal sprouting of dorsal root axons. Arch. Neurol. Psychiat., 79, 46–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mendell, L.M., Sassoon, E.M., Wall P.D. (1978). Properties of synaptic linkage from long ranging afferents onto dorsal horn neurons in normal and deafferented cats. J. physiol., 285, 299–310PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Merrill, E.G., Wall, P.D. (1972) Factors forming the edge of a receptive field. The presence of relatively ineffective afferents. J. Physiol., 226, 825–846PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Marzenich, M.M., Kaas, J.H. (l982). Recoganization of mammalian somatosensory cortex following peripheral nerve injury. TINS, Dec., 433–436Google Scholar
  28. Pomerantz, B.H., Markus, H., Krushelnycky, D. (1983). Spread of saphenous somatotopic projection map in spinal cord and behavioral effects after chronic sciatic denervation in adult rat. In PressGoogle Scholar
  29. Rodin, B.E., Sampogna, S.L., Kruger, L. (1983). An examination of intraspinal sprouting in dorsal root axons with the tracer horseradish peroxidase. J. Comp. Neurol., 215, 187–198PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Seltzer, Z., Devor, M., (1979). Ephaptic transmission in chronically damaged peripheral nerves. Neurology, 29, 1061–1064PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Seltzer, Z., Devor, M., (1983). Effect of nerve section on the spinal distribution of neighboring nerves. In pressGoogle Scholar
  32. Teuber, H.L., Krieger, H.P., Rendell, M.B., (1949). Reorganization of sensory function in amputation stumps: Two-point discrimination. Fed. Proc., 8, 156Google Scholar
  33. Wall, P.D. (1977). The presence of ineffective synapses and the circumstances which unmask them. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B., 278. 361–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wall, P.D. (1982). The effect of peripheral nerve lesions and of neonatal capsaicin in the rat on primary afferent depolarization. J. Physiol., 329, 2l–35Google Scholar
  35. Wall, P.D., Devur, M. (1981). The effect of peripheral nerve injury on dorsal root potentials and on transmission of afferent signals into the spinal cord. Brain Res., 209, 95–111PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wall, P.D., Devor, M. (1983). Sensory impulses originate in dorsal root ganglia in normal and nerve injured rats. In pressGoogle Scholar
  37. Wall, P.D., Gutnick, M. (1974). Ongoing activity in peripheral nerves: The physiology and pharmacology of impulses originating from a neuroma. Exp. Neurol., 43, 580–593PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wall, P.D., Mills, M., Fitzgerald M., Gibson, S.J., (1982). Chronic blockade of sciatic nerve transmission by tetrodotoxin does not produce central changes in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord of the rat. Neurosci. Lett. 38, 315–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Woolf, C.J.,Wall, P.D. (1982). Chronic peripheral nerve section diminishes the primary afferent A-fiber mediated inhibition of rat dorsal horn neurons. Brain Res., 242, 77–85PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Wenner-Gren Center 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marshall Devor
    • 1
  1. 1.Life Sciences InstituteHebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations