β-Oscillations Reflect Recovery of the Paretic Upper Limb in Subacute Stroke
Background. Recovery of upper limb function post-stroke can be partly predicted by initial motor function, but the mechanisms underpinning these improvements have yet to be determined. Here, we sought to identify neural correlates of post-stroke recovery using longitudinal magnetoencephalography (MEG) assessments in subacute stroke survivors. Methods. First-ever, subcortical ischemic stroke survivors with unilateral mild to moderate hand paresis were evaluated at 3, 5, and 12 weeks after stroke using a finger-lifting task in the MEG. Cortical activity patterns in the β-band (16-30 Hz) were compared with matched healthy controls. Results. All stroke survivors (n=22; 17 males) had improvements in action research arm test (ARAT) and Fugl-Meyer upper extremity (FM-UE) scores between 3 and 12 weeks. At 3 weeks post-stroke the peak amplitudes of the movement-related ipsilesional β-band event-related desynchronization (β-ERD) and synchronization (β-ERS) in primary motor cortex (M1) were significantly lower than the healthy controls (p<0.001) and were correlated with both the FM-UE and ARAT scores (r=0.51-0.69, p<0.017). The decreased β-ERS peak amplitudes were observed both in paretic and non-paretic hand movement particularly at 3 weeks post-stroke, suggesting a generalized disinhibition status. The peak amplitudes of ipsilesional β-ERS at week 3 post-stroke correlated with the FM-UE score at 12 weeks (r=0.54, p=0.03) but no longer significant when controlling for the FM-UE score at 3 weeks post-stroke.Conclusions. Although early β-band activity does not independently predict outcome at 3 months after stroke, it mirrors functional changes, giving a potential insight into the mechanisms underpinning recovery of motor function in subacute stroke.