An investigation of the cortical control of forepaw gripping after cervical hemisection injuries in rats

Melissa K. Strong, Jennifer E. Blanco, Kim D. Anderson, Gail Lewandoski, Oswald Steward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Previous studies in mice have demonstrated that forepaw gripping ability, as measured by a grip strength meter (GSM), is dependent on the contralateral sensorimotor cortex, but this dependency changes after hemisection injury at cervical level 4 (C4). Initially, the mouse fails to grip with the forepaw ipsilateral to the hemisection but gripping recovers. Additionally, a mouse's gripping by the contralateral paw becomes independent of the sensorimotor cortex, indicating a reorganization of cortical control of gripping function (Blanco, J.E., Anderson, K.D., Steward, O. 2007. Recovery of forepaw gripping ability and reorganization of cortical motor control following cervical spinal cord injuries in mice. Exp. Neurol. 203, 333-348.). Here we explore whether a similar reorganization occurs after cervical hemisection injuries in rats. We show that as in mice, unilateral lesions of the sensorimotor cortex impair rats' griping by the contralateral paw. We also confirm from previous studies that cervical hemisections impair rats' griping by the ipsilateral paw. In contrast to mice, however there is minimal recovery of gripping after complete lateral hemisections and secondary lesions of the sensorimotor cortex continue to impair rats' gripping by the contralateral paw. Thus, forelimb gripping ability as measured by the GSM is dependent on the contralateral sensorimotor cortex in rats even after a cervical hemisection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-107
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2009



  • Cortico-spinal tract
  • Digital flexors
  • Functional reorganization
  • Hand function
  • Hemisection
  • Plasticity
  • Rat
  • Recovery of function
  • Sensorimotor cortex
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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