Fractal dimension assessment of brain white matter structural complexity post stroke in relation to upper-extremity motor function

Academic Article


  • Little is known about the association between brain white matter (WM) structure and motor function in humans. This study investigated complexity of brain WM interior shape as determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its relationship with upper-extremity (UE) motor function in patients post stroke. We hypothesized that (1) the WM complexity would decrease following stroke, and (2) higher WM complexity in non-affected cortical areas would be related to greater UE motor function. Thirty-eight stroke patients (16 with left-hemisphere lesions) underwent MRI anatomical brain scans. Fractal dimension (FD), a quantitative shape metric, was applied onto skeletonized brain WM images to evaluate WM internal structural complexity. Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) and Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment (FM) scores were measured to assess motor function of the affected limb. The WM complexity was lower in the stroke-affected hemisphere. The FD was associated with better motor function in two subgroups: with left-subcortical lesions, FD values of the lesion-free areas of the left hemisphere were associated with better FM scores; with right-cortical lesions, FD values of lesion-free regions were robustly associated with better WMFT scores. These findings suggest that greater residual WM complexity is associated with less impaired UE motor function, which is more robust in patients with right-hemisphere lesions. No correlations were found between lesion volume and WMFT or FM scores. This study addressed WM complexity in stroke patients and its relationship with UE motor function. Measurement of brain WM reorganization may be a sensitive correlate of UE function in people recovering from stroke. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Brain Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zhang L; Butler AJ; Sun CK; Sahgal V; Wittenberg GF; Yue GH
  • Start Page

  • 229
  • End Page

  • 240
  • Volume

  • 1228