Fries, Wolfgang; Danek, Adrian; Scheidtmann, K.; Hamburger, C.
Motor recovery following capsular stroke. Role of descending pathways from multiple motor areas.
In: Brain, Vol. 116: pp. 369-382
The functional anatomy of motor recovery was studied by assessing motor function quantitatively in 23 patients following capsular or striatocapsular stroke. While selective basal ganglia lesions (caudate and/or putamen exclusively) did not affect voluntary movements of the extremities, lesions of the anterior (plus caudate/putamen) or posterior limb of the internal capsule led to an initially severe motor impairment followed by excellent recovery, hand function included. In contrast, lesions of the posterior limb of the internal capsule in combination with damage to lateral thalamus compromised motor outcome. In experimental tracing of the topography of the internal capsule in macaque monkeys, we found axons of primary motor cortex passing through the middle third of the posterior limb of the internal capsule. Axons of premotor cortex (dorsolateral and post-arcuate area 6) passed through the capsular genu, and those of supplementary motor area (mesial area 6) through the anterior limb. Small capsular lesion can therefore disrupt the output of functionally and anatomically distinct motor areas selectively. The clinically similar motor deficits with a similar course of functional restitution following disruption of these different descending motor pathways indicate a parallel operation of cortical motor areas. They may have the further capability of substituting each other functionally in the process of recovery from hemiparesis.