In man and other mammals normal motor co-ordination is not restored, as a rule, after regeneration of a severed peripheral nerve-trunk (Sperry, 1945). The random misdirection of regenerating fibres into foreign muscles tends to prevent normal dissociated action within the re-innervated musculature. In contrast, larval amphibians have been found to show excellent recovery of motor function in the form of ‘homologous or myotypic response’ (Weiss, 1936, 1941) following the cutting and regeneration of limb-nerves, limb transplantation, and the crossconnecting of limb nerves to foreign muscles. Similarly, good restoration of muscle co-ordination has been observed in the pectoral fin of adult teleost fishes (Sperry, 1950, 1956).
It has been suggested (Sperry, 1941, 1951) that such recovery is most easily explained in terms of a central readjustment of synaptic connexions to suit the altered pattern of peripheral innervation. Morphological or other direct evidence for such synaptic changes, however, has not been found.
This investigation was supported by the F. P. Hixon Fund of the California Institute of Technology and a grant from Eli Lilly and Company.