Post-stroke reorganization of brain motor output to the hand: A 2-4 month follow-up with focal magnetic transcranial stimulation

P. Cicinelli, R. Traversa, P. M. Rossini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Focal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TCS) was employed for the representation of the motor cortex in a population of 18 patients to investigate the functional properties of hand motor areas 2-4 months after a monohemispheric stroke. Eleven sites were stimulated to elicit motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in abductor digiti minimi muscle after TCS of affected (AH) and unaffected (UH) hemispheres; recording sessions were performed at the beginning (T1) and after 8-10 weeks (T2) of neurorehabilitation. Barthel index and Canadian neurological scale scores were evaluated. A group of 20 healthy control subjects was enrolled. In stroke patients the AH was less excitable than normal, combined with a decrease in motor cortical output area (P <0.05) in T1. In T2, there was an enlargement of the hand motor area on the AH combined with an improvement of clinical scores (P <0.001). In T1 and T2, the amplitude of MEPs in the AH was reduced (P <0.001) with a prolongation of central conduction time (P <0.001) and with a tendency towards improvement in T2; the amplitude of contracted MEPs was larger than normal in the UH in T1. Both in T1 and T2, anomalous 'hot spot' (most excitable) scalp sites, never seen in normals, were often encountered (T2 > T1) on the AH and UH. Interhemispheric differences for topography and latency of MEPs were remarkably affected. Our data are consistent with a rearrangement of the brain motor conical output between 2 and 4 months following stroke. The amelioration of the neurophysiological parameters was correlated with clinical improvement in disability and neurological scores. This study confirms the existence in adults of brain 'plasticity' still operating between 2 and 4 months from an acute vascular monohemispheric insult.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-450
Number of pages13
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology - Electromyography and Motor Control
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


  • Brain plasticity
  • Stroke
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-stroke reorganization of brain motor output to the hand: A 2-4 month follow-up with focal magnetic transcranial stimulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this