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Keywords:

  • functional reorganization;
  • cortical motor-related network;
  • graph theoretical analysis;
  • small-world efficiency;
  • betweenness centrality;
  • stroke

Abstract

Cerebral neuroplasticity after stroke has been elucidated by functional neuroimaging. However, little is known concerning how topological properties of the cortical motor-related network evolved following subcortical stroke. In the present study, we investigated 24 subcortical stroke patients with only left motor pathway damaged and 24 matched healthy controls. A cortical motor-related network consisting of 20 brain regions remote from the primary lesion was constructed using resting-state functional MRI datasets. We subsequently used graph theoretical approaches to analyze the topological properties of this network in both stroke patients and healthy controls. In addition, we divided the stroke patients into two subgroups according to their outcomes in hand function to explore relationships between topological properties of this network and outcomes in hand function. Although we observed that the cortical motor-related network in both healthy controls and stroke patients exhibited small-world topology, the local efficiency of this network in stroke patients is higher than and global efficiency is lower than those in healthy controls. In addition, striking alterations in the betweenness centrality of regions were found in stroke patients, including the contralesional supplementary motor area, dorsolateral premotor cortex, and anterior inferior cerebellum. Moreover, we observed significant correlations between betweenness centrality of regions and Fugl-Meyer assessment scores. A tendency for the cortical motor-related network to be close to a regular configuration and altered betweenness centrality of regions were demonstrated in patients with subcortical stroke. This study provided insight into functional organization after subcortical stroke from the viewpoint of network topology. Hum Brain Mapp 35:3343–3359, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.