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Lesion-specific cortical activation following sensory stimulation in patients with subacute stroke.

BACKGROUND: Sensory stimulation can play a fundamental role in the activation of the primary sensorimotor cortex (S1-M1), which can promote motor learning and M1 plasticity in stroke patients. However, studies have focused mainly on investigating the influence of brain lesion profiles on the activation patterns of S1-M1 during motor tasks instead of sensory tasks. Therefore, the objective of this study is to explore the lesion-specific activation patterns due to different brain lesion profiles and types during focal vibration (FV).

METHODS: In total 52 subacute stroke patients were recruited in this clinical experiment, including patients with basal ganglia hemorrhage/ischemia, brainstem ischemia, other subcortical ischemia, cortical ischemia, and mixed cortical-subcortical ischemia. Electroencephalograms (EEG) were recorded following a resting state lasting for 4 min and three sessions of FV. FV was applied over the muscle belly of the affected limb's biceps for 3 min each session. Beta motor-related EEG power desynchronization overlying S1-M1 was used to indicate the activation of S1-M1, while the laterality coefficient (LC) of the activation of S1-M1 was used to assess the interhemispheric asymmetry of brain activation.

RESULTS: (1) Regarding brain lesion profiles, FV could lead to the significant activation of bilateral S1-M1 in patients with basal ganglia ischemia and other subcortical ischemia. The activation of ipsilesional S1-M1 in patients with brainstem ischemia was higher than that in patients with cortical ischemia. No activation of S1-M1 was observed in patients with lesions involving cortical regions. (2) Regarding brain lesion types, FV could induce the activation of bilateral S1-M1 in patients with basal ganglia hemorrhage, which was significantly higher than that in patients with basal ganglia ischemia. Additionally, LC showed no significant correlation with the modified Barthel index (MBI) in all patients, but a positive correlation with MBI in patients with basal ganglia lesions.

CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal that sensory stimulation can induce lesion-specific activation patterns of S1-M1. This indicates FV could be applied in a personalized manner based on the lesion-specific activation of S1-M1 in stroke patients with different lesion profiles and types. Our study may contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cortical reorganization.

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