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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2011, Article ID 871296, 9 pages
Review Article

Cortical Plasticity during Motor Learning and Recovery after Ischemic Stroke

1Clinical Neurorehabilitation, Department of Neurology, University of Zurich, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland
2Rehabilitation Institute and Technology Center (RITZ), 8008 Zurich, Switzerland
3Division of Brain Injury Outcomes, Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA

Received 21 April 2011; Revised 18 July 2011; Accepted 22 August 2011

Academic Editor: Anja Gundlfinger

Copyright © 2011 Jonas A. Hosp and Andreas R. Luft. 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.


The motor system has the ability to adapt to environmental constraints and injury to itself. This adaptation is often referred to as a form of plasticity allowing for livelong acquisition of new movements and for recovery after stroke. We are not sure whether learning and recovery work via same or similar neural mechanisms. But, all these processes require widespread changes within the matrix of the brain. Here, basic mechanisms of these adaptations on the level of cortical circuitry and networks are reviewed. We focus on the motor cortices because their role in learning and recovery has been investigated more thoroughly than other brain regions.