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Title: Behavioural recovery and adaptive plasticity after spinal transection in lamprey
Author: Cooke, R. M.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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As in mammalian systems, the analysis of functional recovery in the lamprey has focused on regrowth of axons across lesion sites. However, there is evidence that regrowth alone cannot account for recovery. A complementary approach is to investigate how plasticity may alter network properties to optimise function below lesion sites after injury. This project has focused on examining changes in cellular and synaptic properties below lesion sites. A potential role for adaptive plasticity was initially examined after pharmacological disruption of network function for 24hrs to block action potential propagation, ionotropic glutamate receptors, or depolarise the membrane potential. In the second study, the spinal cords of lamprey were transected at 25% body length. These animals consistently recovered near-normal levels of locomotor function by 10 weeks post-transection. Several alterations in the physiological properties of spinal neurons occurred following pharmacological disruption. Adaptive changes were seen in cellular and synaptic properties, and in synaptic ultrastructure in the sublesional spinal circuitry following functional recovery. This implies that spinal networks can be altered in adaptive ways in response to extreme functional changes, and suggests a potential role for homeostatic plasticity as an accompanying mechanism to axonal regeneration in the recovery of locomotor function. This could ultimately suggest that drug treatments used in patients to suppress increased activity in the lesioned spinal cord may not be helpful, and could encourage treatments that take advantage of rather than suppress the plastic changes in activity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available