Hu M, Cheng H-J, Ji F, Chong JSX, Lu Z, Huang W, Ang KK, Phua KS, Chuang K-H, Jiang X, Chew E, Guan C and Zhou JH (2021) Brain Functional Changes in Stroke Following Rehabilitation Using Brain-Computer Interface-Assisted Motor Imagery With and Without tDCS: A Pilot Study. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 15:692304. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2021.692304
Brain-computer interface-assisted motor imagery (MI-BCI) or transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been proven effective in post-stroke motor function enhancement, yet whether the combination of MI-BCI and tDCS may further benefit the rehabilitation of motor functions remains unknown. This study investigated brain functional activity and connectivity changes after a 2 week MI-BCI and tDCS combined intervention in 19 chronic subcortical stroke patients. Patients were randomized into MI-BCI with tDCS group and MI-BCI only group who underwent 10 sessions of 20 min real or sham tDCS followed by 1 h MI-BCI training with robotic feedback. We derived amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF), regional homogeneity (ReHo), and functional connectivity (FC) from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data pre- and post-intervention. At baseline, stroke patients had lower ALFF in the ipsilesional somatomotor network (SMN), lower ReHo in the contralesional insula, and higher ALFF/Reho in the bilateral posterior default mode network (DMN) compared to age-matched healthy controls. After the intervention, the MI-BCI only group showed increased ALFF in contralesional SMN and decreased ALFF/Reho in the posterior DMN. In contrast, no post-intervention changes were detected in the MI-BCI + tDCS group. Furthermore, higher increases in ALFF/ReHo/FC measures were related to better motor function recovery (measured by the Fugl-Meyer Assessment scores) in the MI-BCI group while the opposite association was detected in the MI-BCI + tDCS group. Taken together, our findings suggest that brain functional re-normalization and network-specific compensation were found in the MI-BCI only group but not in the MI-BCI + tDCS group although both groups gained significant motor function improvement post-intervention with no group difference. MI-BCI and tDCS may exert differential or even opposing impact on brain functional reorganization during post-stroke motor rehabilitation; therefore, the integration of the two strategies requires further refinement to improve efficacy and effectiveness.
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
This research / project is supported by the National Medical Research Council Singapore - -
Grant Reference no. : NMRC0088/2015 and NMRC/NIG/1013/2010
This research / project is supported by the Ministry of Health, Singapore - Duke-NUS Medical School Signature Research Program
Grant Reference no. :