Brain activation is related to smoothness of upper limb movements after stroke

Floor E. Buma, Joost van Kordelaar, Matthijs Raemaekers, Erwin E. H. van Wegen, Nick F. Ramsey, Gert Kwakkel

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35 Citations (Scopus)


It is unclear whether additionally recruited sensorimotor areas in the ipsilesional and contralesional hemisphere and the cerebellum can compensate for lost neuronal functions after stroke. The objective of this study was to investigate how increased recruitment of secondary sensorimotor areas is associated with quality of motor control after stroke. In seventeen patients (three females, fourteen males; age: 59.9 ± 12.6 years), cortical activation levels were determined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 12 regions of interest during a finger flexion–extension task in weeks 6 and 29 after stroke. At the same time points and by using 3D kinematics, the quality of motor control was assessed by smoothness of the grasp aperture during a reach-to-grasp task, quantified by normalized jerk. Ipsilesional premotor cortex, insula and cerebellum, as well as the contralesional supplementary motor area, insula and cerebellum, correlated significantly and positively with the normalized jerk of grasp aperture at week 6 after stroke. A positive trend towards this correlation was observed in week 29. This study suggests that recruitment of secondary motor areas at 6 weeks after stroke is highly associated with increased jerk during reaching and grasping. As jerk represents the change in acceleration, the recruitment of additional sensorimotor areas seems to reflect a type of control in which deviations from an optimal movement pattern are continuously corrected. This relationship suggests that additional recruitment of sensorimotor areas after stroke may not correspond to restitution of motor function, but more likely to adaptive motor learning strategies to compensate for motor impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number234: 2077
Pages (from-to)2077-2089
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Brain activation
  • Motor control
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Recovery
  • Stroke
  • Upper extremity

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