Stroke patients recover more effectively when they are rehabilitated with bimanual movement rather than with unimanual movement; however, it remains unclear why bimanual movement is more effective for stroke recovery. Using a computational model of stroke recovery, this study suggests that bimanual movement facilitates the reorganization of a damaged motor cortex because this movement induces rotations in the preferred directions (PDs) of motor cortex neurons. Although the tuning curves of these neurons differ during unimanual and bimanual movement, changes in PD, but not changes in modulation depth, facilitate such reorganization. In addition, this reorganization was facilitated only when encoding PDs are rotated, but decoding PDs are not rotated. Bimanual movement facilitates reorganization because this movement changes neural activities through inter-hemispheric inhibition without changing cortical-spinal-muscle connections. Furthermore, stronger inter-hemispheric inhibition between motor cortices results in more effective reorganization. Thus, this study suggests that bimanual movement is effective for stroke rehabilitation because this movement rotates the encoding PDs of motor cortex neurons.
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