Yuan Yang, Ph.D.
After a unilateral or hemiparetic stroke, damage to the corticospinal tract in the lesioned side of the brain increases the abnormal reliance on motor pathways in the contralesional side of the brain. Based on computational modeling and human subject experiments, we developed a novel brain-muscular connectivity measure that allows the determination of the stroke-induced change to the usage of different motor pathways and its link with post-stroke motor impairments. We found the change to the motor pathways is likely associated with and permitted by a hemispheric shift of sensory processing toward the contralesional sensorimotor areas. To combat these maladaptive functional changes, we developed a novel non-invasive brain stimulation intervention that targets specific brain regions in a precise way. Early results from clinical trials in moderate-to-severe impaired stroke individuals demonstrated effective reduction in post-stroke movement impairments. The multimodal brain imaging and brain stimulation developed in our stroke research have broader impacts that can be translated to investigate other neurological disorders and brain functions.