Background: Brain mapping studies have demonstrated that functional poststroke brain reorganization is associated with recovery of motor function. Nonetheless, the specific mechanisms associated with functional reorganization leading to motor recovery are still partly unknown. In this study, we performed a cross-sectional evaluation of poststroke subjects with the following goals: (1) To assess intra- and interhemispheric functional brain activation patterns associated with motor function in poststroke patients with variable degrees of recovery; (2) to investigate the involvement of other nonmotor functional networks in relationship with recovery.
Methods: We studied 59 individuals: 13 patients with function Rankin > 1 and Barthel < 100; 19 patients with preserved function with Rankin 0-1 and Barthel = 100; and 27 healthy controls. All subjects underwent structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (3T Philips Achieva, Holland) using the same protocol (TR = 2 seconds, TE = 30 ms, FOV = 240 × 240 × 117, slice = 39). Resting state functional connectivity was used by in-house software, based on SPM12. Among patients with and without preserved function, the functional connectivity between the primary motor region (M1) and the contralateral hemisphere was increased compared with controls. Nonetheless, only patients with decreased function exhibited decreased functional connectivity between executive control, sensorimotor and visuospatial networks.
Conclusion: Functional recovery after stroke is associated with preserved functional connectivity of motor to nonmotor networks.
Keywords: Functional magnetic resonance imaging; motor cortex; network analysis; stroke.
Copyright © 2016 by the American Society of Neuroimaging.