Comparison of motor recovery after neonatal and adult hemidecortication

Morgan Day, Robbin Gibb, Jeff Kleim, Bryan Kolb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Hemidecortication produces a wide range of cognitive and motor symptoms in both children and lab animals that are generally far greater than smaller bilateral focal lesions of cerebral cortex. Although there have been many studies of motor functions after hemidecortication, the analyses largely have been of general motor functions rather than of more skilled motor functions such as forelimb reaching. The objective of the present experiment was to analyze the sensorimotor forelimb function of rats after infant or adult hemidecortication by utilizing multiple motor analyses. Rats were given hemidecortications either on postnatal day 10 (P10) or day 90 (P90). Both groups were then tested on a number of behavioural tasks (two tests of skilled reaching, forelimb placing during spontaneous vertical exploration, and a sunflower seed opening task) beginning at P 120. In a portion of the P10 female animals, topographic movement representations were derived in the hemisphere contralateral to lesion using Intracortical Microstimulation (ICMS). The brains of the male animals were prepared for Golgi-Cox staining and subsequent analysis of dendritic arborisation and spine density. There were three main findings. 1) Both groups of hemidecorticate animals were impaired when tested on the motor tasks, but the impairments were qualitatively different in the neonatal and adult operates. For example, the P 10 hemidecorticate animals displayed simultaneous bilateral forelimb movement, or “mirror movements.” 2) Hemidecortication at P90 but not P10, led to increased dendritic arborisation of Layer III pyramidal cells in the intact parietal cortex but whereas P90 animals showed a decrease in cortical thickness in the intact hemisphere, the P10 animals do not, even though there are no callosal connections. 3) P10 hemidecortication altered the details of the ICMS-delineated motor maps in a small group of female hemidecorticates that were studied. In conclusion, there was postinjury compensation for motor impairments in both P10 and P90 rats but the mechanisms were different. Furthermore, comparisons of postinjury behavioral and anatomical compensation in rats with focal cortical injuries at those ages in our previous studies showed marked differences. These results suggest that there is a fundamental difference in the way that the brain compensates from hemidecortication and focal injury in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114205
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Feb 13 2023


  • Hemidecortication
  • Hemispherectomy
  • Motor function
  • Recovery of function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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