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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 18;8(6):e66556. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066556. Print 2013.

Default Mode Network Connectivity in Stroke Patients.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior, Centre for Neuroscience, Nijmegen, The Netherlands ; Radboud University Nijmegen, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Abstract

The pathophysiology of episodic memory dysfunction after infarction is not completely understood. It has been suggested that infarctions located anywhere in the brain can induce widespread effects causing disruption of functional networks of the cortical regions. The default mode network, which includes the medial temporal lobe, is a functional network that is associated with episodic memory processing. We investigated whether the default mode network activity is reduced in stroke patients compared to healthy control subjects in the resting state condition. We assessed the whole brain network properties during resting state functional MRI in 21 control subjects and 20 'first-ever' stroke patients. Patients were scanned 9-12 weeks after stroke onset. Stroke lesions were located in various parts of the brain. Independent component analyses were conducted to identify the default mode network and to compare the group differences of the default mode network. Furthermore, region-of-interest based analysis was performed to explore the functional connectivity between the regions of the default mode network. Stroke patients performed significantly worse than control subjects on the delayed recall score on California verbal learning test. We found decreased functional connectivity in the left medial temporal lobe, posterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortical areas within the default mode network and reduced functional connectivity between these regions in stroke patients compared with controls. There were no significant volumetric differences between the groups. These results demonstrate that connectivity within the default mode network is reduced in 'first-ever' stroke patients compared to control subjects. This phenomenon might explain the occurrence of post-stroke cognitive dysfunction in stroke patients.

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