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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 852423, 12 pages
Review Article

Adaptive Neuroplastic Responses in Early and Late Hemispherectomized Monkeys

1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, College of Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059, USA
2Institute of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
3School of Optometry, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7

Received 13 February 2012; Revised 29 March 2012; Accepted 12 April 2012

Academic Editor: Pietro Pietrini

Copyright © 2012 Mark W. Burke et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Behavioural recovery in children who undergo medically required hemispherectomy showcase the remarkable ability of the cerebral cortex to adapt and reorganize following insult early in life. Case study data suggest that lesions sustained early in childhood lead to better recovery compared to those that occur later in life. In these children, it is possible that neural reorganization had begun prior to surgery but was masked by the dysfunctional hemisphere. The degree of neural reorganization has been difficult to study systematically in human infants. Here we present a 20-year culmination of data on our nonhuman primate model (Chlorocebus sabeus) of early-life hemispherectomy in which behavioral recovery is interpreted in light of plastic processes that lead to the anatomical reorganization of the early-damaged brain. The model presented here suggests that significant functional recovery occurs after the removal of one hemisphere in monkeys with no preexisting neurological dysfunctions. Human and primate studies suggest a critical role for subcortical and brainstem structures as well as corticospinal tracts in the neuroanatomical reorganization which result in the remarkable behavioral recovery following hemispherectomy. The non-human primate model presented here offers a unique opportunity for studying the behavioral and functional neuroanatomical reorganization that underlies developmental plasticity.