Mapping Causal Circuit Dynamics in Stroke Using Simultaneous Electroencephalography and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

SOURCE: BMC Neurology. 21(1):280, 2021 Jul 16.

AUTHORS: Rolle CE; Baumer FM; Jordan JT; Berry K; Garcia M; Monusko K; Trivedi H; Wu W; Toll R; Buckwalter MS; Lansberg M; Etkin A

Motor impairment after stroke is due not only to direct tissue loss but also to disrupted connectivity within the motor network. Mixed results from studies attempting to enhance motor recovery with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) highlight the need for a better understanding of both connectivity after stroke and the impact of TMS on this connectivity. This study used TMS-EEG to map the causal information flow in the motor network of healthy adult subjects and define how stroke alters these circuits.

METHODS: Fourteen stroke patients and 12 controls received TMS to two sites (bilateral primary motor cortices) during two motor tasks (paretic/dominant hand movement vs. rest) while EEG measured the cortical response to TMS pulses. TMS-EEG based connectivity measurements were derived for each hemisphere and the change in connectivity (DELTAC) between the two motor tasks was calculated. We analyzed if DELTAC for each hemisphere differed between the stroke and control groups or across TMS sites, and whether DELTAC correlated with arm function in stroke patients.

RESULTS: Right hand movement increased connectivity in the left compared to the right hemisphere in controls, while hand movement did not significantly change connectivity in either hemisphere in stroke. Stroke patients with the largest increase in healthy hemisphere connectivity during paretic hand movement had the best arm function.

CONCLUSIONS: TMS-EEG measurements are sensitive to movement-induced changes in brain connectivity. These measurements may characterize clinically meaningful changes in circuit dynamics after stroke, thus providing specific targets for trials of TMS in post-stroke