Identification of a specific functional network altered in poststroke cognitive impairment

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To study the association between poststroke cognitive impairment and defining a specific resting functional marker.


The resting-state functional connectivity 6 months after an ischemic stroke in 56 patients was investigated. Twenty-nine of the patients who had an impairment of one or several cognitive domains were compared to 27 without any cognitive deficit. We studied the whole-brain connectivity using 2 complementary approaches: graph theory to study the functional network organization and network-based statistics to explore connectivity between brain regions. We assessed the potential cortical atrophy using voxel-based morphometry analysis.


The overall topological organization of the functional network was not altered in cognitively impaired stroke patients, who had the same mean node degree, average clustering coefficient, and global efficiency as cognitively healthy stroke patients. Network-based statistics analysis showed that poststroke cognitive impairment was associated with dysfunction of a whole-brain network composed of 167 regions and 178 connections, and functional disconnections between superior, middle, and inferior frontal gyri and the superior and inferior temporal gyri. These regions had connections that were specifically and positively correlated with cognitive domain scores. No intergroup differences in overall gray matter thickness and ischemic infarct topography were observed. To assess the effect of prestroke white matter hyperintensities on connectivity, we included the initial Fazekas scale in the regression model for a second network-based analysis. The resulting network was associated with the same key alterations but had fewer connections.


The observed functional network alterations suggest that the appearance of a cognitive impairment following stroke may be associated with a particular functional alteration, shared specifically between cognitive domains.

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