Functional reorganisation and recovery following cortical lesions: A preliminary study in macaque monkeys.

23 Jan 2020

Damage following traumatic brain injury or stroke can often extend beyond the boundaries of the initial insult and can lead to maladaptive cortical reorganisation. On the other hand, beneficial cortical reorganisation leading to recovery of function can also occur. We used resting state FMRI to investigate how cortical networks in the macaque brain change across time in response to lesions to the prefrontal cortex, and how this reorganisation correlated with changes in behavioural performance in cognitive tasks. After prelesion testing and scanning, two monkeys received a lesion to regions surrounding the left principal sulcus followed by periodic testing and scanning. Later, the animals received another lesion to the opposite hemisphere and additional testing and scanning. Following the first lesion, we observed both a behavioural impairment and decrease in functional connectivity, predominantly in frontal-frontal networks. Approximately 8 weeks later, performance and connectivity patterns both improved. Following the second lesion, we observed a further behavioural deficit and decrease in connectivity that showed little recovery. We discuss how different mechanisms including alternate behavioural strategies and reorganisation of specific prefrontal networks may have led to improvements in behaviour. Further work will be needed to confirm these mechanisms.