Background After cerebral ischemia, disruption and subsequent reorganization of functional connections occur both locally and remote to the lesion. Recently, complexity of brain connectivity has been described using graph theory, a mathematical approach that depicts important properties of complex systems by quantifying topologies of network representations. Functional and dynamic changes of brain connectivity can be reliably analyzed via electroencephalography (EEG) recordings even when they are not yet reflected in structural changes of connections. Objective We tested whether and how ischemic stroke in the acute stage may determine changes in small-worldness of cortical networks as measured by cortical sources of EEG. Methods Graph characteristics of EEG of 30 consecutive stroke patients in acute stage (no more than 5 days after the event) were examined. Connectivity analysis was performed using eLORETA in both hemispheres. Results Network rearrangements were mainly detected in delta, theta, and alpha bands when patients were compared with healthy subjects. In delta and alpha bands similar findings were observed in both hemispheres regardless of the side of ischemic lesion: bilaterally decreased small-worldness in the delta band and bilaterally increased small-worldness in the alpha2 band. In the theta band, bilaterally decreased small-worldness was observed only in patients with stroke in the left hemisphere. Conclusions After an acute stroke, brain cortex rearranges its network connections diffusely, in a frequency-dependent modality probably in order to face the new anatomical and functional frame.
- graph theory