Functional imaging correlates of recovery after stroke in humans

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2000 Dec;20(12):1619-31. doi: 10.1097/00004647-200012000-00001.


The mechanisms that are responsible for the remarkable potential for functional recovery from stroke in humans remain unclear, and functional tomographic neuroimaging techniques increasingly are being used to investigate this issue. Such studies confirmed that recovery of function is related to the volume of penumbra tissue that escapes infarction. For language, reactivation of the primary functional areas in the dominant hemisphere is associated with the best prognosis. Evidence for functional plasticity in the immediate vicinity of infarcts, as demonstrated under experimental conditions with invasive methods, is still limited after stroke in humans, probably because of the limitations of spatial resolution of most currently available methods. Often, functional changes in the large-scale networks that support motor (for example, supplementary and premotor cortex) and language functions (for example, prefrontal cortex) have been found, more extensively after lesions acquired during childhood than at adult age. A frequent finding is an increase in the cerebral blood flow response in corresponding regions of the healthy hemisphere during unilateral motor activation or language activation. It is, however, not yet clear whether that is related to functional recovery, and there are several observations indicating that it is often inefficient. Further systematic follow-up studies and therapeutic intervention trials are needed to clarify these issues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*