Stroke is a debilitating disease that leads, in the 50% of cases, to permanent motor or cognitive impairments. The effectiveness of therapies that promote recovery after stroke depends on indicators of the disease state that can measure the degree of recovery or predict treatment response or both. Here, we propose to use single-trial classification of task dependent neural activity to assess the disease state and track recovery after stroke. We tested this idea on calcium imaging data of the dorsal cortex of healthy, spontaneously recovered and rehabilitated mice while performing a forelimb retraction task. Results show that, at a single-trial level for the three experimental groups, neural activation during the reward pull can be detected with high accuracy with respect to the background activity in all cortical areas of the field of view and this activation is quite stable across trials and subjects of the same group. Moreover, single-trial responses during the reward pull can be used to discriminate between healthy and stroke subjects with areas closer to the injury site displaying higher discrimination capability than areas closer to this site. Finally, a classifier built to discriminate between controls and stroke at the single-trial level can be used to generate an index of the disease state, the therapeutic score, which is validated on the group of rehabilitated mice. In conclusion, task-related neural activity can be used as an indicator of disease state and track recovery without selecting a peculiar feature of the neural responses. This novel method can be used in both the development and assessment of different therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: GCaMP6f; cerebral cortex; mice; single-trial classification; stroke; wide-field calcium imaging.
Copyright © 2022 Scaglione, Conti, Allegra Mascaro and Pavone.