Introduction

Over the past decade, the literature on plasticity has grown and there now are diverse and manifold descriptions of somatosensory plasticity. In some studies, plastic changes are invoked by modifications in behavior, through training or alterations in the environment. However, in the vast majority of cases, evidence for plasticity comes from deafferentation studies, where peripheral sensory afferents are either silenced or eliminated. Both experimental paradigms produce shifts in the balance of activity from the peripheral sensory inputs, and a common assay is to measure changes in sensory maps, or the map substrates. At first pass, the breadth and diversity of the descriptions may seem overwhelming, but after consideration of the data, what emerges is a sense that some basic features of reorganization are common across experimental paradigms, levels of the system, and species.

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