The authors investigated the changes in connectivity networks of the bilateral primary motor cortex (M1) of subcortical stroke patients using a multimodal neuroimaging approach with antiplatelet therapy. Nineteen patients were scanned at 2 time points: before and 1 month after the treatment. The authors assessed the resting-state functional connectivity (FC) and probabilistic fiber tracking of left and right M1 of every patient, and then compared these results to the 15 healthy controls. The authors also evaluated the correlations between the neuroimaging results and clinical scores.
Compared with the controls, the patients showed a significant decrease of FC in the contralateral motor cortex before treatment, and the disrupted FC was restored after treatment. The fiber tracking results in the controls indicated that the body of the corpus callosum should be the main pathway connecting the M1 and contralateral hemispheres. All patients exhibited reduced probability of structural connectivity within this pathway before treatment and which was restored after treatment. Significant correlations were also found in these patients between the connectivity results and clinical scores, which might imply that the connectivity of M1 can be used to evaluate the motor skills in stroke patients.
These findings can help elucidate the neural mechanisms responsible for the brain connectivity recovery after stroke.