Assessing the Usage of Indirect Motor Pathways following a Hemiparetic Stroke

Runfeng Tian, Julius P.A. Dewald, Yuan Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A hallmark impairment in a hemiparetic stroke is a loss of independent joint control resulting in abnormal co-activation of shoulder abductor and elbow flexor muscles in their paretic arm, clinically known as the flexion synergy. The flexion synergy appears while generating shoulder abduction (SABD) torques as lifting the paretic arm. This likely be caused by an increased reliance on contralesional indirect motor pathways following damage to direct corticospinal projections. The assessment of functional connectivity between brain and muscle signals, i.e., brain-muscle connectivity (BMC), may provide insight into such changes to the usage of motor pathways. Our previous model simulation shows that multi-synaptic connections along the indirect motor pathway can generate nonlinear connectivity. We hypothesize that increased usage of indirect motor pathways (as increasing SABD load) will lead to an increase of nonlinear BMC. To test this hypothesis, we measured brain activity, muscle activity from shoulder abductors when stroke participants generate 20% and 40% of maximum SABD torque with their paretic arm. We computed both linear and nonlinear BMC between EEG and EMG. We found dominant nonlinear BMC at contralesional/ipsilateral hemisphere for stroke, whose magnitude increased with the SABD load. These results supported our hypothesis and indicated that nonlinear BMC could provide a quantitative indicator for determining the usage of indirect motor pathways following a hemiparetic stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9505663
Pages (from-to)1568-1572
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
StatePublished - 2021


  • Brain-muscle connectivity
  • hemiparetic stroke
  • movement impairment
  • nonlinear analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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