Prefrontal-Premotor Pathways and Motor Output in Well-Recovered Stroke Patients

Structural brain imaging has continuously furthered our knowledge how different pathways of the human motor system contribute to residual motor output in stroke patients. Tract-related microstructure of pathways between primary and premotor areas has been found to critically influence motor output. The motor network is not restricted in connectivity to motor and premotor areas but these brain regions are densely interconnected with prefrontal regions such as the dorsolateral (DLPFC) and ventrolateral (VLPFC) prefrontal cortex. So far, the available data about the topography of such direct pathways and their microstructural properties in humans are sparse. To what extent prefrontal-premotor connections might also relate to residual motor outcome after stroke is still an open question. The present study was designed to address this issue of structural connectivity of prefrontal-premotor pathways in 26 healthy, older participants (66 ± 10 years old, 15 male) and 30 well-recovered chronic stroke patients (64 ± 10 years old, 21 males). Probabilistic tractography was used to reconstruct direct fiber tracts between DLPFC and VLPFC and three premotor areas (dorsal and ventral premotor cortex and the supplementary motor area). Direct connections between DLPFC/VLPFC and the primary motor cortex were also tested. Tract-related microstructure was estimated for each specific tract by means of fractional anisotropy and alternative diffusion metrics. These measures were compared between the groups and related to residual motor outcome in the stroke patients. Direct prefrontal-premotor trajectories were successfully traceable in both groups. Similar in gross anatomic topography, stroke patients presented only marginal microstructural alterations of these tracts, predominantly of the affected hemisphere. However, there was no clear evidence for a significant association between tract-related microstructure of prefrontal-premotor connections and residual motor functions in the present group of well-recovered stroke patients. Direct prefrontal-motor connections between DLPFC/VLPFC and the primary motor cortex could not be reconstructed in the present healthy participants and stroke patients.


Published in:
Frontiers in Neurology, 10
Year:
Feb 14 2019
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 Record created 2019-03-26, last modified 2019-07-12

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