February 5, 2021

RRI Special Rounds:Toni Balatinecz Symposium 

Mechanisms of neural repair and functional recovery after stroke

Tuesday, February 9, 2021
9:30 am – 12:30 pm EST

Stroke affects the brain’s normal function in various domains, including motor, perceptual, and cognitive functions, and it interferes with patients’ quality of life. The Rotman Research Institute is pleased to welcome three world-leading scientists who are conducting groundbreaking work in stroke recovery. Dr. Maurizio Corbetta is a world expert in attention and its interaction with other cognitive functions. He investigates how localized brain lesions perturb brain-wide physiological functional networks that interfere with task performance, as well as what neural mechanisms may drive recovery and specify novel interventions and prognostic indicators. Dr. Charlotte Stagg conducts cutting-edge research on motor function and motor learning using diverse imaging techniques. She focuses specifically on motor recovery after stroke by using non-invasive stimulation and pharmacological approaches to enhance neural and functional adaptation after stroke. Dr. Cathy Price is a renowned neuroscientist who studies speech and language impairments after stroke and their potential recovery mechanisms. She aims to provide a model of the neural basis of language that can ultimately be used to develop targeted interventions that facilitate stroke patients’ recovery. Through this special symposium, we hope to stimulate conversation about common and unique mechanisms of recovery across domains (attention, motor, language) and where intervention efforts to improve stroke patients’ recovery and quality of life diverge or converge.

Register for the Toni Balatinecz Symposium

Zoom details will be e-mailed to registered attendees the day before the Symposium

Please note: This symposium will NOT be recorded.

Dr. Maurizio Corbetta
University of Padova & 
Washington University 

Stroke, Networks, Behavior

I will discuss recent advances in our understanding of the effects of focal lesions on behavior and brain networks. Specifically, I will show that at the population level stroke occurs in the white matter and causes correlated sets of deficits. Correspondingly, a small number of robust functional-structural network abnormalities are observed. These patterns account for a large amount of variance in cognitive functions, while structural damage is more relevant for sensory-motor deficits. These functional network abnormalities correspond to a number of alterations of network dynamics that we are trying to understand mechanistically with modeling.

Dr. Charlotte Stagg
University of Oxford

Developing novel adjunct therapies for stroke recovery

Understanding how people are able to regain functional movement after stroke, and therefore how we might begin to augment rehabilitation is an urgent, unmet, clinical need. However, the neuroplastic mechanisms underlying motor recovery occur across multiple spatial and temporal scales; from the synapse to the network and from effects lasting seconds to those lasting months or even years, making this a complex question.

Here, I will discuss recent studies from my group studying the physiological basis of motor plasticity in vivo, in particular how changes across a wide range of spatial scales may interact to support functional improvements. To this end we combine advanced neuroimaging, including MR Imaging, MR Spectroscopy and Magnetoencephalography, with non-invasive brain stimulation and pharmacological approaches. 

Taken together, these studies provide convergent evidence that changes in local and network-level inhibitory processing is a key component of motor plasticity, and may provide a key target for putative novel adjunct therapies to enhance rehabilitation.

Dr. Cathy Price
University College London

Predicting and explaining language outcome and recovery after stroke

Predicting the capacity to recover from speech and language impairments after stroke is essential for rehabilitation planning, expectations and goal-setting. Nevertheless, accurate predictions have been difficult to generate because there are so many factors that affect recovery. I will briefly review the challenges faced and then present the results of an investigation of several hundred adult stroke survivors that illustrates how well speech and language outcome can be predicted by a combination of lesion location, lesion size and the initial severity of impairment. I will show which lesion sites (A) cause consistent and persistently poor speech, (B) have temporary, albeit devastating early impact followed by consistently good recovery, and (C) have variable outputs. I will then discuss theoretical explanations for these three different types of lesion effects and consider how such theories might help us to improve our predictions and explanations in future.

For more information or to unsubscribe, please contact: rri.rounds.mgmt@research.baycrest.org