Enhanced Effective Connectivity Between Primary Motor Cortex and Intraparietal Sulcus in Well-Recovered Stroke Patients

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Ischemic strokes with motor deficits lead to widespread changes in neural activity and interregional coupling between primary and secondary motor areas. Compared with frontal circuits, the knowledge is still limited to what extent parietal cortices and their interactions with frontal motor areas undergo plastic changes and might contribute to residual motor functioning after stroke.

Methods—

Fifteen well-recovered patients were evaluated 3 months after stroke by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing visually guided hand grips with their paretic hand. Dynamic causal modeling was used to investigate task-related effective connectivity between ipsilesional posterior parietal regions along the intraparietal sulcus and frontal key motor areas, such as the primary motor cortex, the ventral premotor cortex, and the supplementary motor area.

Results—

Compared with healthy controls of similar age and sex, we observed significantly enhanced reciprocal facilitatory connectivity between the primary motor cortex and the anterior intraparietal sulcus of the ipsilesional hemisphere. Beyond that and as a fingerprint of excellent recovery, the coupling pattern of the parietofrontal network was near-normal. An association between coupling parameters and clinical scores was not detected.

Conclusions—

The present analysis further adds to the understanding of the parietofrontal network of the ipsilesional hemisphere as a prominent circuit involved in plastic changes after stroke.

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