Structural Disconnections Explain Brain Network Dysfunction after Stroke

Joseph C. Griffis, Nicholas V. Metcalf, Maurizio Corbetta, Gordon L. Shulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Stroke causes focal brain lesions that disrupt functional connectivity (FC), a measure of activity synchronization, throughout distributed brain networks. It is often assumed that FC disruptions reflect damage to specific cortical regions. However, an alternative explanation is that they reflect the structural disconnection (SDC) of white matter pathways. Here, we compare these explanations using data from 114 stroke patients. Across multiple analyses, we find that SDC measures outperform focal damage measures, including damage to putative critical cortical regions, for explaining FC disruptions associated with stroke. We also identify a core mode of structure-function covariation that links the severity of interhemispheric SDCs to widespread FC disruptions across patients and that correlates with deficits in multiple behavioral domains. We conclude that a lesion's impact on the structural connectome is what determines its impact on FC and that interhemispheric SDCs may play a particularly important role in mediating FC disruptions after stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2527-2540.e9
JournalCell Reports
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 3 2019


  • brain networks
  • diffusion MRI
  • functional MRI
  • functional connectivity
  • lesion
  • resting state
  • stroke
  • structural connectivity
  • structural disconnection
  • structure-function


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