Identifiable Patterns of Trait, State, and Experience in Chronic Stroke Recovery

E. Susan Duncan, A. Duke Shereen, Thanos Gentimis, Steven L. Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Considerable evidence indicates that the functional connectome of the healthy human brain is highly stable, analogous to a fingerprint. Objective: We investigated the stability of functional connectivity across tasks and sessions in a cohort of individuals with chronic stroke using a supervised machine learning approach. Methods: Twelve individuals with chronic stroke underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) seven times over 18 weeks. The middle 6 weeks consisted of intensive aphasia therapy. We collected fMRI data during rest and performance of 2 tasks. We calculated functional connectivity metrics for each imaging run, then applied a support vector machine to classify data on the basis of participant, task, and time point (pre- or posttherapy). Permutation testing established statistical significance. Results: Whole brain functional connectivity matrices could be classified at levels significantly greater than chance on the basis of participant (87.1% accuracy; P <.0001), task (68.1% accuracy; P =.002), and time point (72.1% accuracy; P =.015). All significant effects were reproduced using only the contralesional right hemisphere; the left hemisphere revealed significant effects for participant and task, but not time point. Resting state data could also be used to classify task-based data according to subject (66.0%; P <.0001). While the strongest posttherapy changes occurred among regions outside putative language networks, connections with traditional language-associated regions were significantly more positively correlated with behavioral outcome measures, and other regions had more negative correlations and intrahemispheric connections. Conclusions: Findings suggest the profound importance of considering interindividual variability when interpreting mechanisms of recovery in studies of functional connectivity in stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • aphasia
  • functional neuroimaging
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • rehabilitation
  • stroke
  • supervised machine learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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