Low-frequency cortical activity is a neuromodulatory target that tracks recovery after stroke

Nat Med. 2018 Aug;24(8):1257-1267. doi: 10.1038/s41591-018-0058-y. Epub 2018 Jun 18.


Recent work has highlighted the importance of transient low-frequency oscillatory (LFO; <4 Hz) activity in the healthy primary motor cortex during skilled upper-limb tasks. These brief bouts of oscillatory activity may establish the timing or sequencing of motor actions. Here, we show that LFOs track motor recovery post-stroke and can be a physiological target for neuromodulation. In rodents, we found that reach-related LFOs, as measured in both the local field potential and the related spiking activity, were diminished after stroke and that spontaneous recovery was closely correlated with their restoration in the perilesional cortex. Sensorimotor LFOs were also diminished in a human subject with chronic disability after stroke in contrast to two non-stroke subjects who demonstrated robust LFOs. Therapeutic delivery of electrical stimulation time-locked to the expected onset of LFOs was found to significantly improve skilled reaching in stroke animals. Together, our results suggest that restoration or modulation of cortical oscillatory dynamics is important for the recovery of upper-limb function and that they may serve as a novel target for clinical neuromodulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Forelimb / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis