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1.  Motor and premotor cortices in subcortical stroke: proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy measures and arm motor impairment 
Although functional imaging and neurophysiological approaches reveal alterations in motor and premotor areas after stroke, insights into neurobiological events underlying these alterations are limited in human studies.
We tested whether cerebral metabolites related to neuronal and glial compartments are altered in the hand representation in bilateral motor and premotor areas and correlated with distal and proximal arm motor impairment in hemiparetic persons.
In twenty participants at >6 months post-onset of a subcortical ischemic stroke and sixteen age and sex-matched healthy controls, the concentrations of N-acetylaspartate and myoinositol were quantified by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). Regions of interest, identified by functional MRI, included primary (M1), dorsal premotor (PMd), and supplementary (SMA) motor areas. Relationships between metabolite concentrations and distal (hand) and proximal (shoulder/elbow) motor impairment using Fugl-Meyer Upper Extremity (FMUE) subscores were explored.
N-acetylaspartate was lower in M1 (p=0.04) and SMA (p=0.004) and myo-inositol was higher in M1 (p=0.003) and PMd (p=0.03) in the injured (ipsilesional) hemisphere after stroke compared to the left hemisphere in controls. N-acetylaspartate in ipsilesional M1 was positively correlated with hand FMUE subscores (p=0.04). Significant positive correlations were also found between N-acetylaspartate in ipsilesional M1, PMd, and SMA and in contralesional M1 and shoulder/elbow FMUE subscores (p=0.02, 0.01, 0.02 and 0.02 respectively).
Our preliminary results demonstrated that 1H-MRS is a sensitive method to quantify relevant neuronal changes in spared motor cortex after stroke, and consequently increase our knowledge of the factors leading from these changes to arm motor impairment.
PMCID: PMC3943339  PMID: 23300210
subcortical stroke; motor and premotor cortices; proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy; distal and proximal arm motor impairment
2.  Motor representations in the intact hemisphere of the rat are reduced after repetitive training of the impaired forelimb 
During recovery from a unilateral cortical stroke, spared cortical motor areas in the contralateral (intact) cerebral cortex are recruited. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that compensation with the less-impaired limb may have a detrimental inhibitory effect on the intact cortical hemisphere and could impede recovery of the more-impaired limb. However, evidence from detailed neurophysiological mapping studies in animal models is lacking.
The present study examines neurophysiological changes in the intact hemisphere of the rat following a unilateral ischemic infarct to cortical forelimb motor areas.
Eight rats were trained for two weeks on a reach and retrieval task prior to an ischemic infarct induced by the vasoconstrictor, endothelin-1 injected into the cortical grey matter encompassing the two forelimb motor representations, the caudal forelimb area (CFA) and the rostral forelimb area (RFA). Animals were randomly assigned to an Infarct/Training group (n=4) or an Infarct/No Training group (i.e., spontaneous recovery, n=4). After a five-week post-infarct period, motor areas of the intact hemisphere (CFA and RFA) were characterized using intracortical microstimulation techniques. The resulting maps of evoked movements were compared to maps derived from CFA and RFA in normal rats (Normal, n=5; Normal/Training, n=4).
Compared with the Normal/No Training group, CFA representations were significantly smaller in the Infarct/Training group but not in the Infarct/No Training group. No significant differences were found in RFA.
Repetitive training of the more-impaired forelimb during the post-infarct recovery period reduces the size of motor representations in the intact hemisphere.
PMCID: PMC3962819  PMID: 23161864
Motor Rehabilitation; Interhemispheric Competition; ICMS; Motor Cortex; Ischemia
3.  A novel device to measure power grip forces in squirrel monkeys 
Journal of neuroscience methods  2009;179(2):264-270.
Understanding the neural bases for grip force behaviors in both normal and neurologically impaired animals is imperative prior to improving treatments and therapeutic approaches. The present paper describes a novel device for the assessment of power grip forces in squirrel monkeys. The control of grasping and object manipulation represents a vital aspect of daily living by allowing the performance of a wide variety of complex hand movements. However, following neurological injury such as stroke, these grasping behaviors are often severely affected, resulting in persistent impairments in strength, grip force modulation and kinematic hand control. While there is a significant clinical focus on rehabilitative strategies to address these issues, there exists the need for translational animal models. In the study presented here, we describe a simple grip force device designed for use in non-human primates, which provides detailed quantitative information regarding distal grip force dynamics. Adult squirrel monkeys were trained to exceed a specific grip force threshold, which was rewarded with a food pellet. One of these subjects then received an infarct of the M1 hand representation area. Results suggest that the device provides detailed and reliable information on grip behaviors in healthy monkeys and can detect deficits in grip dynamics in monkeys with cortical lesions (significantly longer release times). Understanding the physiological and neuroanatomical aspects of grasping function following neurological injury may lead to more effective rehabilitative interventions.
PMCID: PMC2700290  PMID: 19428536
Grip force; power grip; monkey; stroke; hand; primates
4.  Recovery after brain injury: mechanisms and principles 
The past 20 years have represented an important period in the development of principles underlying neuroplasticity, especially as they apply to recovery from neurological injury. It is now generally accepted that acquired brain injuries, such as occur in stroke or trauma, initiate a cascade of regenerative events that last for at least several weeks, if not months. Many investigators have pointed out striking parallels between post-injury plasticity and the molecular and cellular events that take place during normal brain development. As evidence for the principles and mechanisms underlying post-injury neuroplasticity has been gleaned from both animal models and human populations, novel approaches to therapeutic intervention have been proposed. One important theme has persisted as the sophistication of clinicians and scientists in their knowledge of neuroplasticity mechanisms has grown: behavioral experience is the most potent modulator of brain plasticity. While there is substantial evidence for this principle in normal, healthy brains, the injured brain is particularly malleable. Based on the quantity and quality of motor experience, the brain can be reshaped after injury in either adaptive or maladaptive ways. This paper reviews selected studies that have demonstrated the neurophysiological and neuroanatomical changes that are triggered by motor experience, by injury, and the interaction of these processes. In addition, recent studies using new and elegant techniques are providing novel perspectives on the events that take place in the injured brain, providing a real-time window into post-injury plasticity. These new approaches are likely to accelerate the pace of basic research, and provide a wealth of opportunities to translate basic principles into therapeutic methodologies.
PMCID: PMC3870954  PMID: 24399951
motor cortex; stroke; traumatic brain injury; axonal sprouting; motor learning; recovery
5.  Gene expression changes of interconnected spared cortical neurons 7 days after ischemic infarct of the primary motor cortex in the rat 
Molecular and cellular biochemistry  2012;369(0):267-286.
After cortical injury resulting from stroke, some recovery can occur and may involve spared areas of the cerebral cortex reorganizing to assume functions previously controlled by the damaged cortical areas. No studies have specifically assessed gene expression changes in remote neurons with axonal processes that terminate in the infarcted tissue, i.e., the subset of neurons most likely to be involved in regenerative processes. By physiologically identifying the primary motor area controlling forelimb function in adult rats (caudal forelimb area = CFA), and injecting a retrograde tract-tracer, we labeled neurons within the non-primary motor cortex (rostral forelimb area = RFA) that project to CFA. Then, 7 days after a CFA infarct (n = 6), we used laser capture microdissection techniques to harvest labeled neurons in RFA. Healthy, uninjured rats served as controls (n = 6). Biological interactions and functions of gene profiling were investigated by Affymetrix Microarray, and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. A total of 143 up- and 128 down-regulated genes showed significant changes (fold change ≥1.3 and p <0.05). The canonical pathway, “Axonal Guidance Signaling,” was overrepresented (p value = 0.002). Significantly overrepresented functions included: branching of neurites, organization of cytoskeleton, dendritic growth and branching, organization of cytoplasm, guidance of neurites, development of cellular protrusions, density of dendritic spines, and shape change (p = 0.000151–0.0487). As previous studies have shown that spared motor areas are important in recovery following injury to the primary motor area, the results suggest that these gene expression changes in remote, interconnected neurons may underlie reorganization and recovery mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3694431  PMID: 22821175
Stroke; Ischemic infarct; Motor cortex; Plasticity; Gene expression
6.  Neuronal–glial alterations in non-primary motor areas in chronic subcortical stroke 
Brain research  2012;1463:75-84.
Whether functional changes of the non-primary motor areas, e.g., dorsal premotor (PMd) and supplementary motor (SMA) areas, after stroke, reflect reorganization phenomena or recruitment of a pre-existing motor network remains to be clarified. We hypothesized that cellular changes in these areas would be consistent with their involvement in post-stroke reorganization. Specifically, we expected that neuronal and glial compartments would be altered in radiologically normal-appearing, i.e., spared, PMd and SMA in patients with arm paresis. Twenty survivors of a single ischemic subcortical stroke and 16 age-matched healthy controls were included. At more than six months after stroke, metabolites related to neuronal and glial compartments: N-acetylaspartate, myo-inositol, and glutamate/glutamine, were quantified by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in PMd and SMA in both injured (ipsilesional) and un-injured (contralesional) hemispheres. Correlations between metabolites were also calculated. Finally, relationships between metabolite concentrations and arm motor impairment (total and proximal Fugl-Meyer Upper Extremity, FMUE, scores) were analyzed. Compared to controls, stroke survivors showed significantly higher ipsilesional PMd myo-inositol and lower SMA N-acetylaspartate. Significantly lower metabolite correlations were found between ipsilesional and contralesional SMA. Ipsilesional N-acetylaspartate was significantly related to proximal FMUE scores. This study provides evidence of abnormalities in metabolites, specific to neuronal and glial compartments, across spared non-primary motor areas. Ipsilesional alterations were related to proximal arm motor impairment. Our results suggest the involvement of these areas in post-stroke reorganization.
PMCID: PMC3626290  PMID: 22575560
1H-MRS; Neuronal and glial compartments; Non-primary motor areas; Subcortical stroke
7.  Neural bases of recovery after brain injury 
Substantial data have accumulated over the past decade indicating that the adult brain is capable of substantial structural and functional reorganization after stroke. While some limited recovery is known to occur spontaneously, especially within the first month post-stroke, there is currently significant optimism that new interventions based on the modulation of neuroplasticity mechanisms will provide greater functional benefits in a larger population of stroke survivors. To place this information in the context of current thinking about brain plasticity, this review outlines the basic theories of why spontaneous recovery occurs, and introduces important principles to explain the effects of post-stroke behavioral experience on neural plasticity.
Learning outcomes
Readers will be able to: (a) explain the three classic theories to explain spontaneous recovery after focal brain injury, (b) explain the neurophysiological effects of post-injury rehabilitative therapy on functional organization in motor cortex, (c) readers will be able to describe some of the variables that impact the effects of post-stroke behavioral experience on neuroplasticity, and (d) readers will be able to explain some of the current laboratory-based approaches to modifying brain circuits after stroke that might soon be translated to human application.
PMCID: PMC3162095  PMID: 21600588
stroke; plasticity; recovery; rehabilitation
8.  Primary Motor Cortex in Stroke A Functional MRI-Guided Proton MR Spectroscopic Study 
Background and Purpose
Our goal was to investigate whether certain metabolites, specific to neurons, glial cells, or the neuronal-glial neurotransmission system, in primary motor cortices (M1), are altered and correlated with clinical motor severity in chronic stroke.
Fourteen survivors of a single ischemic stroke located outside the M1 and 14 age-matched healthy control subjects were included. At >6 months after stroke, N-acetylaspartate, myo-inositol, and glutamate/glutamine were measured using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (in-plane resolution=5×5 mm2) in radiologically normal-appearing gray matter of the hand representation area, identified by functional MRI, in each M1. Metabolite concentrations and analyses of metabolite correlations within M1 were determined. Relationships between metabolite concentrations and arm motor impairment were also evaluated.
The stroke survivors showed lower N-acetylaspartate and higher myo-inositol across ipsilesional and contral-esional M1 compared with control subjects. Significant correlations between N-acetylaspartate and glutamate/glutamine were found in either M1. Ipsilesional N-acetylaspartate and glutamate/glutamine were positively correlated with arm motor impairment and contralesional N-acetylaspartate with time after stroke.
Our preliminary data demonstrated significant alterations of neuronal-glial interactions in spared M1 with the ipsilesional alterations related to stroke severity and contralesional alterations to stroke duration. Thus, MR spectroscopy might be a sensitive method to quantify relevant metabolite changes after stroke and consequently increase our knowledge of the factors leading from these changes in spared motor cortex to motor impairment after stroke.
PMCID: PMC3266712  PMID: 21330627
1H-MRS; motor impairment; plasticity; primary motor cortex; stroke; plasticity
9.  Interhemispheric Connections of the Ventral Premotor Cortex in a New World Primate 
This study describes the pattern of interhemispheric connections of the ventral premotor cortex (PMv) distal forelimb representation (DFL) in squirrel monkeys. Our objectives were to describe qualitatively and quantitatively the connections of PMv with contralateral cortical areas. Intracortical microstimulation techniques (ICMS) guided the injection of the neuronal tract tracers biotinylated dextran amine or Fast blue into PMv DFL. We classified the interhemispheric connections of PMv into three groups. Major connections were found in the contralateral PMv and supplementary motor area (SMA). Intermediate interhemispheric connections were found in the rostral portion of the primary motor cortex, the frontal area immediately rostral and ventral to PMv (FR), cingulate motor areas (CMAs), and dorsal premotor cortex (PMd). Minor connections were found inconsistently across cases in the anterior operculum (AO), posterior operculum/inferior parietal cortex (PO/IP), and posterior parietal cortex (PP), areas that consistently show connections with PMv in the ipsilateral hemisphere. Within-case comparisons revealed that the percentage of PMv connections with contralateral SMA and PMd are higher than the percentage of PMv connections with these areas in the ipsilateral hemisphere; percentages of PMv connections with contralateral M1 rostral, FR, AO, and the primary somatosensory cortex are lower than percentages of PMv connections with these areas in the ipsilateral hemisphere. These studies increase our knowledge of the pattern of interhemispheric connection of PMv. They help to provide an anatomical foundation for understanding PMv’s role in motor control of the hand and interhemispheric interactions that may underlie the coordination of bimanual movements.
PMCID: PMC3266721  PMID: 17948893
connections; contralateral; interhemispheric; monkey; neuroanatomy; premotor cortex
10.  The effects of amphetamine on recovery of function in animal models of cerebral injury: A critical appraisal 
NeuroRehabilitation  2009;25(1):5-17.
Therapeutic strategies to promote recovery from stroke are now beginning to utilize current knowledge of neural plasticity and the neuromodulatory role of physical rehabilitation. Current interests are also focused on adjuvant therapies that may enhance plasticity associated with recovery and rehabilitation. Amphetamine was one of the earliest pharmacological interventions and continues to show promising results as an adjuvant treatment for recovery of function in pre-clinical animal studies. This drug is a potent modulator of neurological function and cortical excitation, acting primarily through norepinephrine and dopamine mechanisms to enhance arousal and attention, and thus, to facilitate learning of motor skills. Although the results from the pre-clinical studies have been primarily positive, they have not translated well to clinical trials, which have yielded mixed results. This review addresses some of the conflicting evidence from pre-clinical studies conducted between 1982 and 2008 in order to better understand how to optimize the clinical application of amphetamine as an adjuvant therapy for stroke recovery. Among many of the factors that relate to differences in outcome, it is likely that both amphetamine dose and the timing of the intervention with respect to the time of injury affected the outcome.
PMCID: PMC2956594  PMID: 19713615
Stroke; recovery; amphetamine; physical therapy; plasticity
11.  Effects of Tongue Force Training on Orolingual Motor Cortical Representation 
Behavioural brain research  2009;201(1):229-232.
Previous research has demonstrated that training rats in a skilled reaching condition will induce task-related changes in the caudal forelimb area of motor cortex. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether task-specific changes can be induced within the orofacial area of the motor cortex in rats. Specifically, we compared changes of the orofacial motor cortical representation in lick-trained rats to age-matched controls. For one month, six water-restricted Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to lick an isometric force-sensing disc at increasing forces for water reinforcement. The rats were trained daily for six minutes starting with forces of 1g, and increasing over the course of the month to 10, 15, 20, 25 and finally 30 g. One to three days following the last training session, the animals were subjected to a neurophysiological motor mapping procedure in which motor representations corresponding to the orofacial and adjacent areas were defined using intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) techniques. We found no statistical difference in the topographical representation of the control (mean = 2.03 mm2) vs. trained (1.87 mm2) rats. This result indicates that force training alone is insufficient to drive changes in the size of the cortical representation. We also recorded the minimum current threshold required to elicit a motor response at each site of microstimulation. We found that the lick-trained rats had a significantly lower average minimum threshold (29.1 ± 1.0 μA) for evoking movements related to the task compared to control rats (34.6 ± 1.1 μA). These results indicate that while tongue force training alone does not produce lasting changes in the size of the orofacial cortical motor representation, tongue force training decreases the current thresholds necessary for eliciting an ICMS-evoked motor response.
PMCID: PMC2680792  PMID: 19428638
oromotor; plasticity; movement; licking; tongue; operant; cortical; training
12.  A Decision Algorithm for Translating Preclinical Trial Results to Enhance Recovery after Stroke 
A decision algorithm was required to evaluate the first half of a cooperative agreement for preclinical trials to optimize medical device parameters to enhance stroke recovery. Continued funding was contingent upon the midpoint evaluation, called the milestone decision. We developed an algorithm, which summarized our rodent and primate model results. Primary outcomes weighed more heavily than secondary outcomes, and the primate model more heavily than rodent models. By controlling the type I error for this milestone decision, the probability of correctly discontinuing the study if treatment was not beneficial was high (>0.84). Similar algorithms may be adapted for other milestone-driven projects.
PMCID: PMC2700836  PMID: 19127476
cooperative agreement; milestones; translational research; type I error
13.  Effects of a Rostral Motor Cortex Lesion on Primary Motor Cortex Hand Representation Topography in Primates 
Small lesions to rostral versus caudal portions of the hand representation in the primary motor cortex (M1) produce different behavioral deficits. The goal of the present study was to determine if rehabilitative training has similar effects on functional topography of the spared M1 after rostral versus previously reported caudal M1 lesions.
Following a lesion to the rostral M1 hand area, monkeys were trained for 1 h/day for 30 days to retrieve food pellets from small wells using their impaired hand. Electrophysiological maps of the M1 were derived in anesthetized monkeys before infarct and after rehabilitative training using intracortical microstimulation.
After a lesion to the rostral M1 and rehabilitative training, the size of the spared hand representation decreased 1.2%. This change is not statistically different from the 9% increase seen after caudal M1 lesion and rehabilitative training (P > 0.2).
Postlesion training spares peri-infarct hand area regardless of whether the lesion is in the rostral or caudal M1.
PMCID: PMC2743898  PMID: 17172554
Recovery; Rehabilitation; Cortical plasticity; Stroke
14.  Behavioral and neurophysiological effects of delayed training following a small ischemic infarct in primary motor cortex of squirrel monkeys 
A focal injury within the cerebral cortex results in functional reorganization within the spared cortex through time-dependent metabolic and physiological reactions. Physiological changes are also associated with specific post-injury behavioral experiences. Knowing how these factors interact can be beneficial in planning rehabilitative intervention after a stroke. The purpose of this study was to assess the functional impact of delaying the rehabilitative behavioral experience upon movement representations within the primary motor cortex (M1) in an established nonhuman primate, ischemic infarct model. Five adult squirrel monkeys were trained on a motor-skill task prior to and 1 month after an experimental ischemic infarct was induced in M1. Movement representations of the hand were derived within M1 using standard electrophysiological procedures prior to the infarct and again one and two months after the infarct. The results of this study show that even though recovery of motor skills was similar to that of a previous study in squirrel monkeys after early training, unlike early training, delayed training did not result in maintenance of the spared hand representation within the M1 peri-infarct hand area. Instead, delaying training resulted in a large decrease in spared hand representation during the spontaneous recovery period that persisted following the delayed training. In addition, delayed training resulted in an increase of simultaneously evoked movements that are typically independent. These results indicate that post-injury behavioral experience, such as motor skill training, may modulate peri-infarct cortical plasticity in different ways in the acute versus chronic stages following stroke.
PMCID: PMC2740647  PMID: 16273404
Squirrel monkeys; Stroke rehabilitation; Recovery of function; Motor learning; ICMS
15.  Ipsilateral connections of the ventral premotor cortex in a New World primate 
The present study describes the pattern of connections of the ventral premotor cortex (PMv) with various cortical regions of the ipsilateral hemisphere in adult squirrel monkeys. Particularly, we 1) quantified the proportion of inputs and outputs that the PMv distal forelimb representation shares with other areas in the ipsilateral cortex and 2) defined the pattern of PMv connections with respect to the location of the distal forelimb representation in primary motor cortex (M1), primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and the supplementary motor area (SMA). Intracortical microstimulation techniques (ICMS) were used in four experimentally naïve monkeys to identify M1, PMv and SMA forelimb movement representations. Multi-unit recording techniques and myelin staining were used to identify the S1 hand representation. Then, biotinylated dextran amine (BDA; 10000MW) was injected in the center of the PMv distal forelimb representation. Following tangential sectioning, the distribution of BDA-labeled cell bodies and terminal boutons was documented. In M1, labeling followed a rostro-lateral pattern, largely leaving the caudo-medial M1 unlabeled. Quantification of somata and terminals showed that two areas share major connections with PMv: M1 and frontal areas immediately rostral to PMv, designated as frontal rostral area (FR). Connections with this latter region have not been described previously. Moderate connections were found with PMd, SMA, anterior operculum and posterior operculum/inferior parietal area. Minor connections were found with diverse areas of the precentral and parietal cortex, including S1. No statistical difference between the proportion of inputs and outputs for any location was observed, supporting the reciprocity of PMv intracortical connections.
PMCID: PMC2583355  PMID: 16485282
corticocortical; motor cortex; neuroanatomy; PMV; topographic map; ipsilateral
16.  An Additional Motor-Related Field in the Lateral Frontal Cortex of Squirrel Monkeys 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2008;18(12):2719-2728.
Our earlier efforts to document the cortical connections of the ventral premotor cortex (PMv) revealed dense connections with a field rostral and lateral to PMv, an area we called the frontal rostral field (FR). Here, we present data collected in FR using electrophysiological and anatomical methods. Results show that FR contains an isolated motor representation of the forelimb that can be differentiated from PMv based on current thresholds and latencies to evoke electromyographic activity using intracortical microstimulation techniques. In addition, FR has a different pattern of cortical connections compared with PMv. Together, these data support that FR is an additional, previously undescribed motor-related area in squirrel monkeys.
PMCID: PMC2583161  PMID: 18424778
frontal lateral cortex; frontal rostral area; intracortical microstimulation, motor control; neuroanatomy; ventral premotor cortex

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