Effective interventions have demonstrated the ability to improve motor function by reengaging ipsilesional resources, which appears to be critical and feasible for hand function recovery even in individuals with severe chronic stroke. However, previous studies focus on changes in brain activity related to motor execution. How changes in motor preparation may facilitate these changes at motor execution is still unclear. To address this question, 8 individuals with severe chronic hemiparetic stroke participated in a device-assisted intervention for seven weeks. We then quantified changes in both coupling between regions during motor preparation and changes in topographical cortical activity at motor execution for both hand opening in isolation and together with the shoulder using high-density EEG. We hypothesized that intervention-induced changes in cortico-cortico interactions during motor preparation would lead to changes in activity at motor execution specifically towards an increased reliance on the ipsilesional hemisphere. In agreement with this hypothesis, we found that, following the intervention, individuals displayed a reduction in coupling from ipsilesional M1 to contralesional M1 within gamma frequencies during motor preparation for hand opening. This was followed by a reduction in activity in the contralesional primary sensorimotor cortex during motor execution. Similarly, during lifting and opening, a shift to negative coupling within ipsilesional M1 from gamma to beta frequencies was accompanied by an increase in ipsilesional primary sensorimotor cortex activity following the intervention. Together, these results show that intervention-induced changes in coupling within or between motor regions during motor preparation may affect cortical activity at execution.
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