Background and Purpose
Aside from the primary motor cortex, the corticospinal tract (CST) also receives fibers from dorsal and ventral premotor cortices and supplementary motor area, all of which might potentially contribute to motor function after stroke. We sought to quantify the microstructural integrity of CST originating from the hand representations in these 4 motor cortices separately and examined how these values related to hand motor impairment.
Probabilistic tractography from functional MRI-defined cortical sites demonstrated continuous CST originating from hand representations within each motor area in a group of healthy subjects. Microstructural integrity for each tract was calculated using fractional anisotropy at the level of the posterior limb of the internal capsule in a group of patients with chronic stroke.
Fractional anisotropy was reduced in all 4 CSTs in the affected hemisphere. Grip strength correlated with the integrity of the CSTs originating from primary motor and dorsal premotor cortices, whereas, in a multiple regression model, the latter improved the ability of primary motor cortex CST to explain variability in grip strength.
Handgrip critically depends on the CST originating in primary motor cortex but microstructural integrity of CST originating from premotor cortices appears to play a role in supporting motor function after stroke.
Keywords: corticospinal, diffusion, M1, motor, premotor, recovery, stroke