Electrodermal Recording and fMRI to Inform Sensorimotor Recovery in Stroke Patients
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BACKGROUND: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) appears to be useful for investigating motor recovery after stroke. Some of the potential confounders of brain activation studies, however, could be mitigated through complementary physiological monitoring. OBJECTIVE: To investigate a sensorimotor fMRI battery that included simultaneous measurement of electrodermal activity in subjects with hemiparetic stroke to provide a measure related to the sense of effort during motor performance. METHODS: Bilateral hand and ankle tasks were performed by 6 patients with stroke (2 subacute, 4 chronic) during imaging with blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI using an event-related design. BOLD percent changes, peak activation, and laterality index values were calculated in the sensorimotor cortex. Electrodermal recordings were made concurrently and used as a regressor. RESULTS: Sensorimotor BOLD time series and percent change values provided evidence of an intact motor network in each of these well-recovered patients. During tasks involving the hemiparetic limb, electrodermal activity changes were variable in amplitude, and electrodermal activity time-series data showed significant correlations with fMRI in 3 of 6 patients. No such correlations were observed for control tasks involving the unaffected lower limb. CONCLUSIONS: Electrodermal activity activation maps implicated the contralesional over the ipsilesional hemisphere, supporting the notion that stroke patients may require higher order motor processing to perform simple tasks. Electrodermal activity recordings may be useful as a physiological marker of differences in effort required during movements of a subject's hemiparetic compared with the unaffected limb during fMRI studies.
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