Activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis of motor-related neural activity after stroke

Neuroimage. 2012 Feb 1;59(3):2771-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.10.023. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Over the past two decades, several functional neuroimaging experiments demonstrated changes in neural activity in stroke patients with motor deficits. Conclusions from single experiments are usually constrained by small sample sizes and high variability across studies. Here, we used coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses to provide a quantitative synthesis of the current literature on motor-related neural activity after stroke. Of over 1000 PubMed search results through January 2011, 36 studies reported standardized whole-brain group coordinates. Meta-analyses were performed on 54 experimental contrasts for movements of the paretic upper limb (472 patients, 452 activation foci) and on 20 experiments comparing activation between patients and healthy controls (177 patients, 113 activation foci). We computed voxelwise correlations between activation likelihood and motor impairment, time post-stroke, and task difficulty across samples. Patients showed higher activation likelihood in contralesional primary motor cortex (M1), bilateral ventral premotor cortex and supplementary motor area (SMA) relative to healthy subjects. Activity in contralesional areas was more likely found for active than for passive tasks. Better motor performance was associated with greater activation likelihood in ipsilesional M1, pre-SMA, contralesional premotor cortex and cerebellum. Over time post-stroke, activation likelihood in bilateral premotor areas and medial M1 hand knob decreased. This meta-analysis shows that increased activation in contralesional M1 and bilateral premotor areas is a highly consistent finding after stroke despite high inter-study variance resulting from different fMRI tasks and motor impairment levels. However, a good functional outcome relies on the recruitment of the original functional network rather than on contralesional activity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arm / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Movement Disorders / etiology
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / pathology
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Upper Extremity / physiology