Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Mukesh Dhamala

Second Advisor

Andrew J. Butler


Several cortical and subcortical areas of brain interact coherently during various tasks such as motor-imagery (MI) and motor-execution (ME) and even during resting-state (RS). How these interactions are affected following stroke and how the functional organization is regained from rehabilitative treatments as people begin to recover have not been systematically studied. Role of primary motor area during MI task and how this differs during ME task are still questions of interest.

To answer such questions, we recorded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals from 30 participants: 17 young healthy controls and 13 aged stroke survivors following stroke and following rehabilitation - either mental practice (MP) or combined session of mental practice and physical therapy (MP + PT). All the participants performed RS task whereas stroke survivors performed MI and ME tasks as well. We investigated the activity of motor network consisting of the left primary motor area (LM1), the right primary motor area (RM1), the left pre-motor cortex (LPMC), the right pre-motor cortex (RPMC) and the midline supplementary motor area (SMA). In this dissertation, first, we report that during RS the causal information flow (i) between the regions was reduced significantly following stroke (ii) did not increase significantly after MP alone and (iii) among the regions after MP+PT increased significantly towards the causal flow values for young able-bodied people. Second, we found that there was suppressive influence of SMA on M1 during MI task where as the influence was unrestricted during ME task. We reported that following intervention the connection between PMC and M1 was stronger during MI task whereas along with connection from PMC to M1, SMA to M1 also dominated during ME task. Behavioral results showed significant improvement in sensation and motor scores and significant correlation between differences in Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) scores and differences in causal flow values as well differences in endogenous connectivity measures before and after intervention. We conclude that the spectra of causal information flow can be used as a reliable biomarker for evaluating rehabilitation in stroke survivors. These studies deepen our understanding of motor network activity during the recovery of motor behaviors in stroke. Understanding the stroke specific effective connectivity may be clinically beneficial in identifying effective treatments to maximize functional recovery in stroke survivors.