L Wang, C Yu, H Chen, W Qin, Y He, F Fan, Y Zhang, M Wang, K Li, Y Zang, T. S Woodward and C. Zhu
Brain, 2010, 133(4), 1224-1238. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awq043
Numerous studies argue that cortical reorganization may contribute to the restoration of motor function following stroke. However, the evolution of changes during the post-stroke reorganization has been little studied. This study sought to identify dynamic changes in the functional organization, particularly topological characteristics, of the motor execution network during the stroke recovery process. Ten patients (nine male and one female) with subcortical infarctions were assessed by neurological examination and scanned with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging across five consecutive time points in a single year. The motor execution network of each subject was constructed using a functional connectivity matrix between 21 brain regions and subsequently analysed using graph theoretical approaches. Dynamic changes in topological configuration of the network during the process of recovery were evaluated by a mixed model. We found that the motor execution network gradually shifted towards a random mode during the recovery process, which suggests that a less optimized reorganization is involved in regaining function in the affected limbs. Significantly increased regional centralities within the network were observed in the ipsilesional primary motor area and contralesional cerebellum, whereas the ipsilesional cerebellum showed decreased regional centrality. Functional connectivity to these brain regions demonstrated consistent alterations over time. Notably, these measures correlated with different clinical variables, which provided support that the findings may reflect the adaptive reorganization of the motor execution network in stroke patients. In conclusion, the study expands our understanding of the spectrum of changes occurring in the brain after stroke and provides a new avenue for investigating lesion-induced network plasticity.