Distributed versus focal cortical stimulation to enhance motor function and motor map plasticity in a rodent model of ischemia

Jeffery A. Boychuk, De Anna L. Adkins, Jeffrey A. Kleim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background. Motor rehabilitation after cerebral ischemia can enhance motor performance and induce motor map reorganization. Electrical stimulation of the cortex (CS) during rehabilitative training (CS/RT) augments motor map plasticity and confers gains in motor function beyond those observed with motor rehabilitation alone. However, it is unclear how the distribution of electrical stimulation across the cortex accomplishes these changes. This study examined the behavioral and neurophysiological effects of delivering CS/RT through a distributed versus focal arrangement of electrical contacts. Methods. Adult male rats were given rehabilitative training on a skilled forelimb reaching task following induction of focal ischemic damage within motor cortex. Intracortical microstimulation was used to derive high-resolution maps of forelimb movement representations within motor cortex contralateral to the trained/impaired paw before and after rehabilitation. Results. All animals that received rehabilitation showed greater increases in motor map area and reaching accuracy than animals that received no training. Animals with the distributed configuration performed significantly greater reaching accuracy than animals in both the CS/RT with focused contact arrangement and rehabilitative training alone (RT) conditions on days 3 to 4 and on day 6 through the remainder of the study (P < .05). However, both CS/RT groups exhibited larger motor maps than the RT condition (E1-CS/RT, 4.71 ± 0.66 mm2; E2-CS/RT, 4.64 ± 0.46 mm2; RT, 2.99 ± 0.28 mm2). Conclusion. The results indicate that although both focal and distributed forms of CS/RT promote motor map reorganization only the distributed form of CS/RT enhances motor performance with rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-97
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Motor cortex
  • Plasticity
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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