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      Two different reorganization patterns after rehabilitative therapy: an exploratory study with fMRI and TMS.


      Aged, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Activity, physiology, Oxygen, blood, Stroke, pathology, physiopathology, rehabilitation, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

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          We used two complementary methods to investigate cortical reorganization in chronic stroke patients during treatment with a defined motor rehabilitation program. BOLD ("blood oxygenation level dependent") sensitive functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and intracortical inhibition (ICI) and facilitation (ICF) measured with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) via paired pulse stimulation were used to investigate cortical reorganization before and after "constraint-induced movement therapy" (CI). The motor hand function improved in all subjects after CI. BOLD signal intensity changes within affected primary sensorimotor cortex (SMC) before and after CI showed a close correlation with ICI (r = 0.93) and ICF (r = 0.76) difference before and after therapy. Difference in number of voxels and ICI difference before and after CI also showed a close correlation (r = 0.92) in the affected SMC over the time period of training. A single subject analysis revealed that patients with intact hand area of M1 ("the hand knob") and its descending motor fibers (these patients revealed normal motor evoked potentials [MEP] from the affected hand) showed decreasing ipsilesional SMC activation which was paralleled by an increase in intracortical excitability. This pattern putatively reflects increasing synaptic efficiency. When M1 or its descending pyramidal tract was lesioned (MEP from the affected hand was pathologic) ipsilesional SMC activation increased, accompanied by decreased intracortical excitability. We suggest that an increase in synaptic efficiency is not possible here, which leads to reorganization with extension, shift and recruitment of additional cortical areas of the sensorimotor network. The inverse dynamic process between both complementary methods (activation in fMRI and intracortical excitability determined by TMS) over the time period of CI illustrates the value of combining methods for understanding brain reorganization.

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