Plasticity and Spontaneous Activity Pulses in Disused Human Brain Circuits

Dillan J. Newbold, Timothy O. Laumann, Catherine R. Hoyt, Jacqueline M. Hampton, David F. Montez, Ryan V. Raut, Mario Ortega, Anish Mitra, Ashley N. Nielsen, Derek B. Miller, Babatunde Adeyemo, Annie L. Nguyen, Kristen M. Scheidter, Aaron B. Tanenbaum, Andrew N. Van, Scott Marek, Bradley L. Schlaggar, Alexandre R. Carter, Deanna J. Greene, Evan M. GordonMarcus E. Raichle, Steven E. Petersen, Abraham Z. Snyder, Nico U.F. Dosenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


To induce brain plasticity in humans, we casted the dominant upper extremity for 2 weeks and tracked changes in functional connectivity using daily 30-min scans of resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI). Casting caused cortical and cerebellar regions controlling the disused extremity to functionally disconnect from the rest of the somatomotor system, while internal connectivity within the disused sub-circuit was maintained. Functional disconnection was evident within 48 h, progressed throughout the cast period, and reversed after cast removal. During the cast period, large, spontaneous pulses of activity propagated through the disused somatomotor sub-circuit. The adult brain seems to rely on regular use to maintain its functional architecture. Disuse-driven spontaneous activity pulses may help preserve functionally disconnected sub-circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-589.e6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 5 2020


  • ALFF
  • amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations
  • cerebellum
  • disuse
  • fMRI
  • functional connectivity
  • plasticity
  • primary motor cortex
  • resting state
  • spontaneous activity
  • supplementary motor area


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