Brain connectivity plasticity in the motor network after ischemic stroke

Neural Plast. 2013;2013:924192. doi: 10.1155/2013/924192. Epub 2013 Apr 24.


The motor function is controlled by the motor system that comprises a series of cortical and subcortical areas interacting via anatomical connections. The motor function will be disturbed when the stroke lesion impairs either any of these areas or their connections. More and more evidence indicates that the reorganization of the motor network including both areas and their anatomical and functional connectivity might contribute to the motor recovery after stroke. Here, we review recent studies employing models of anatomical, functional, and effective connectivity on neuroimaging data to investigate how ischemic stroke influences the connectivity of motor areas and how changes in connectivity relate to impaired function and functional recovery. We suggest that connectivity changes constitute an important pathophysiological aspect of motor impairment after stroke and important mechanisms of motor recovery. We also demonstrate that therapeutic interventions may facilitate motor recovery after stroke by modulating the connectivity among the motor areas. In conclusion, connectivity analyses improved our understanding of the mechanisms of motor recovery after stroke and may help to design hypothesis-driven treatment strategies and sensitive measures for outcome prediction in stroke patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / pathology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Stroke / pathology
  • Stroke / physiopathology*