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Front Syst Neurosci. 2011 Mar 16;5:8. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2011.00008. eCollection 2011.

Functional connectivity in relation to motor performance and recovery after stroke.

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  • 1Biomagnetic Imaging Laboratory, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California San Francisco CA, USA.


Plasticity after stroke has traditionally been studied by observing changes only in the spatial distribution and laterality of focal brain activation during affected limb movement. However, neural reorganization is multifaceted and our understanding may be enhanced by examining dynamics of activity within large-scale networks involved in sensorimotor control of the limbs. Here, we review functional connectivity as a promising means of assessing the consequences of a stroke lesion on the transfer of activity within large-scale neural networks. We first provide a brief overview of techniques used to assess functional connectivity in subjects with stroke. Next, we review task-related and resting-state functional connectivity studies that demonstrate a lesion-induced disruption of neural networks, the relationship of the extent of this disruption with motor performance, and the potential for network reorganization in the presence of a stroke lesion. We conclude with suggestions for future research and theories that may enhance the interpretation of changing functional connectivity. Overall findings suggest that a network level assessment provides a useful framework to examine brain reorganization and to potentially better predict behavioral outcomes following stroke.


brain; functional connectivity; neuroimaging; neuroplasticity; recovery of function; stroke

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