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Relationship between resting-state functional connectivity and change in motor function after motor imagery intervention in patients with stroke: a scoping review.

BACKGROUND: In clinical practice, motor imagery has been proposed as a treatment modality for stroke owing to its feasibility in patients with severe motor impairment. Motor imagery-based interventions can be categorized as open- or closed-loop. Closed-loop intervention is based on voluntary motor imagery and induced peripheral sensory afferent (e.g., Brain Computer Interface (BCI)-based interventions). Meanwhile, open-loop interventions include methods without voluntary motor imagery or sensory afferent. Resting-state functional connectivity (rs-FC) is defined as a significant temporal correlated signal among functionally related brain regions without any stimulus. rs-FC is a powerful tool for exploring the baseline characteristics of brain connectivity. Previous studies reported changes in rs-FC after motor imagery interventions. Systematic reviews also reported the effects of motor imagery-based interventions at the behavioral level. This study aimed to review and describe the relationship between the improvement in motor function and changes in rs-FC after motor imagery in patients with stroke.

REVIEW PROCESS: The literature review was based on Arksey and O'Malley's framework. PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Web of Science were searched up to September 30, 2023. The included studies covered the following topics: illusion without voluntary action, motor imagery, action imitation, and BCI-based interventions. The correlation between rs-FC and motor function before and after the intervention was analyzed. After screening by two independent researchers, 13 studies on BCI-based intervention, motor imagery intervention, and kinesthetic illusion induced by visual stimulation therapy were included.

CONCLUSION: All studies relating to motor imagery in this review reported improvement in motor function post-intervention. Furthermore, all those studies demonstrated a significant relationship between the change in motor function and rs-FC (e.g., sensorimotor network and parietal cortex).

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