There has been increased interest in the ability of the adult human nervous system to reorganize and adapt to environmental changes throughout life. This ability has been termed "plasticity." Plastic changes in the cerebral cortex have been studied: (a) as modifications of sensory or motor cortical representation of specific body parts (cortical maps, body representation level); and (b) as changes in the efficacy of existing synapses or generation of new synapses (neuronal or synaptic level). In this review, we describe paradigms used to study mechanisms of plasticity in the intact human motor system, the functional relevance of such plasticity, and possible ways to modulate it.
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