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Volume 8 (2008), Pages 757-761

Can the Spinal Cord Learn and Remember?

1Neuroscience Unit, Laval University Medical Center (CHUL - CHUQ), Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
2Faculty of Medicine Department of Anatomy and Physiology, Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Received 15 November 2007; Revised 29 July 2008; Accepted 30 July 2008

Academic Editor: Jonathan R. Wolpaw

Copyright © 2008 Pierre A. Guertin.


Learning and memory traditionally have been associated with cellular processes occurring in a specialized region of the brain called the hippocampus. However, recent data have provided strong evidence to suggest that comparable processes are also expressed in the spinal cord. Experiments performed mainly in spinal cord–transected animals have reported that, indeed, spinal-mediated functions, such as the stretch or flexion reflex, pain signaling, micturition, or locomotion, may undergo plasticity changes associated with partial functional recovery that occur spontaneously or conditionally. Many of the underlying cellular mechanisms strikingly resemble those found in the hippocampus. This mini-review reports, mainly, animal data that support the idea that other areas of the central nervous system, such as the spinal cord, can also learn and remember.