Skilled reaching impairments from the lateral frontal cortex component of middle cerebral artery stroke: a qualitative and quantitative comparison to focal motor cortex lesions in rats

Behav Brain Res. 2005 Jan 6;156(1):125-37. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2004.05.015.


The classical approach to investigating brain contributions to behavior has been to localize function to a region. In clinical investigations, however, injury is frequently multifocal, raising the question of how individual brain regions contribute to a resulting behavioral syndrome. For example, middle cerebral artery (MCA) ischemia in humans can concurrently damage a number of cortical and subcortical areas and the same areas are damaged in rat models of MCA stroke. In the rat, MCA occlusion produces severe motor deficits, but the cortical area of damage is the lateral neocortex, sparing motor cortex. This anatomical finding raises the question of whether the rat lateral neocortex contributes to MCA-related motor impairments, a question that was investigated in the present study. Rats received unilateral neocortical lesions via electrocoagulation of the MCA and were compared to rats with standard motor cortex lesions produced by devascaulrization of the overlaying blood vessels. The MCA group was as impaired as the motor cortex group in skilled reaching movements as assessed by quantitative measures of the contralateral-to-lesion forelimb in a single pellet task and in a tray-reaching task. Although there was improvement in success scores over a 2-week period in both groups, the groups were characterized by distinctive and enduring qualitative impairments. The motor cortex deficit was exemplified by use of trunk musculature and head movements to assist the reaching limb while the MCA impairment included sensory abnormalities. The results are discussed in relation to the contribution of lateral frontal cortex injury to MCA stroke sensorimotor syndromes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Disorders / physiopathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Rats