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In NeuroImage. Clinical

Developmental neuroplasticity allows young brains to adapt via experiences early in life and also to compensate after injury. Why certain individuals are more adaptable remains underexplored. Perinatal stroke is an ideal human model of neuroplasticity with focal lesions acquired near birth in a healthy brain. Machine learning can identify complex patterns in multi-dimensional datasets. We used machine learning to identify structural and functional connectivity biomarkers most predictive of motor function. Forty-nine children with perinatal stroke and 27 controls were studied. Functional connectivity was quantified by fluctuations in blood oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) signal between regions. White matter tractography of corticospinal tracts quantified structural connectivity. Motor function was assessed using validated bimanual and unimanual tests. RELIEFF feature selection and random forest regression models identified predictors of each motor outcome using neuroimaging and demographic features. Unilateral motor outcomes were predicted with highest accuracy (8/54 features r = 0.58, 11/54 features, r = 0.34) but bimanual function required more features (51/54 features, r = 0.38). Connectivity of both hemispheres had important roles as did cortical and subcortical regions. Lesion size, age at scan, and type of stroke were predictive but not highly ranked. Machine learning regression models may represent a powerful tool in identifying neuroimaging biomarkers associated with clinical motor function in perinatal stroke and may inform personalized targets for neuromodulation.

Carlson Helen L, Craig Brandon T, Hilderley Alicia J, Hodge Jacquie, Rajashekar Deepthi, Mouches Pauline, Forkert Nils D, Kirton Adam


Diffusion tractography, MRI, Machine learning, Pediatric, Perinatal stroke, Resting state fMRI