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Yukihiko Fujii and Tsutomu Nakada

Object. A systematic investigation on cortical reorganization in patients with hemiparesis of a subcortical origin, with special emphasis on functional correlates, was conducted using functional magnetic resonance (fMR) imaging performed on a 3-tesla system specifically optimized for fMR imaging investigation.

Methods. The study group included 46 patients with hemiparesis (25 with right and 21 with left hemiparesis) and 30 age-matched healthy volunteers as controls. All study participants were originally right handed. The characteristics of the lesion were putaminal hemorrhage in 19 patients, thalamic hemorrhage in 10 patients, and striatocapsular bland infarction in 17 patients.

Functional recovery in subcortical hemiparesis showed two distinct phases of the recovery process involving entirely different neural mechanisms. Phase I is characterized by the process of recovery and/or reorganization of the primary system. Successful recovery of this system is typically reached within 1 month after stroke onset. Its clinical correlate is a rapid recovery course and significant recovery of function within 1 month of stroke onset. Failure of recovery of the primary system shifts the recovery process to Phase II, during which reorganization involving the ipsilateral pathway takes place. The clinical correlate of Phase II is a slow recovery course with variable functional outcome.

Conclusions. Effective functional organization of the ipsilateral pathway, as identified by linked activation of the ipsilateral primary sensorimotor cortex and contralateral anterior lobe of the cerebellum, is correlated with a good prognostic outcome for patients in the slow recovery group. A high degree of connectivity between supplementary motor areas, bilaterally, appears to influence functional recovery adversely.

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Yukihiko Fujii, Naoki Nakayama and Tsutomu Nakada

Because of the high signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio, T2-weighted images obtained using high-field magnetic resonance (MR) imaging systems can be expected to provide high anatomical and contrast resolution. Furthermore, the improved structural and contrast resolution of these high S/N T2-weighted images can be processed for optimum perceptual resolution through the application of gray-scale reversal and expansion of the gray-scale window, known as T2-reversed (T2R) imaging. In this study, the authors investigated high-resolution T2R MR imaging performed on a high-field (3-tesla) system for its clinical utility in detecting various physiological and pathological conditions.

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Tsutomu Nakada, Yukihiko Fujii and Ingrid L. Kwee

Object. The authors investigated brain strategies associated with hand use in an attempt to clarify genetic and nongenetic factors influencing handedness by using high-field functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Methods. Three groups of patients were studied. The first two groups comprised individuals in whom handedness developed spontaneously (right-handed and left-handed groups). The third group comprised individuals who were coercively trained to use the right hand and developed mixed handedness, referred to here as trained ambidexterity. All trained ambidextrous volunteers were certain that they were innately left-handed, but due to social pressure had modified their preferred hand use for certain tasks common to the right hand.

Although right-handed and left-handed volunteers displayed virtually identical cortical activation, involving homologous cortex primarily located contralateral to the hand motion, trained ambidextrous volunteers exhibited a clearly unique activation pattern. During right-handed motion, motor areas in both hemispheres were activated in these volunteers. During left-handed motion, the right supplemental motor area and the right intermediate zone of the anterior cerebellar lobe were activated significantly more frequently than observed in naturally right-handed or left-handed volunteers.

Conclusions. The results provide strong evidence that cortical organization of spontaneously developed right- and left-handedness involves homologous cortex primarily located contralateral to the hand motion, and this organization is likely to be prenatally determined. By contrast, coerced training of the nondominant hand during the early stages of an individual's development results in mixed handedness (trained ambidexterity), indicating cortical reorganization.

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Hitoshi Matsuzawa, Ingrid L. Kwee and Tsutomu Nakada

✓ The recent development of magnetic resonance (MR) axonography, which uses three-dimensional anisotropy contrast (3DAC), a new algorithm for the treatment of an apparent diffusion tensor, has provided an unprecedented opportunity for visualizing the anatomical details of the spinal cord in live animals. In this study, the authors investigated the sensitivity of the 3DAC method in detecting pathological conditions by obtaining chronological MR axonography of the rat spinal cord immediately after induction of cardiac arrest. The results clearly demonstrated that 3DAC is highly sensitive to any perturbation of physiological conditions. Trichromatic coefficient analyses indicated postmortem changes observed pictorially are indeed due to loss of anisotropy. The study further indicated the presence of at least two independent factors responsible for observed physiological anisotropy. Considering its rather simple implementational process and high anatomical resolution as well as its sensitivity to pathological alteration, MR axonography based on the 3DAC method appears to be the ideal noninvasive imaging technique for assessment of the spinal cord in biomedicine.

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Yukihiko Fujii, Naoki Nakayama and Tsutomu Nakada

Because of the high signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio, T2-weighted images obtained using high-field magnetic resonance (MR) imaging systems can be expected to provide high anatomical and contrast resolution. Furthermore, the improved structural and contrast resolution of these high S/N T2-weighted images can be processed for optimum perceptual resolution through the application of gray-scale reversal and expansion of the gray-scale window, known as T2-reversed (T2R) imaging. In this study, the authors investigated high-resolution T2R MR imaging performed on a high-field (3-tesla) system for its clinical utility in detecting various physiological and pathological conditions.

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Kiyohiro Houkin, Ingrid L. Kwee and Tsutomu Nakada

✓ Serial proton (1H) and phosphorus-31 (31P) magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy of cerebral infarction was performed in rats to assess the sensitivity of these techniques for use in clinical cerebral infarction. In this experimental chronic infarction model, 31P spectroscopy tended to return to a “normal” pattern within 24 hours after induction of infarction in spite of pathologically proven completed infarction and, therefore, appeared not to be sensitive enough for clinical application. On the other hand, proton spectroscopy invariably showed persistent high lactate levels and was capable of distinguishing completed infarction from reperfused recovered brain. Persistent high lactate levels appear to be a good MR spectroscopic indicator of completed infarction.

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Tsutomu Nakada, Naoki Nakayama, Yukihiko Fujii and Ingrid L. Kwee

✓ The utility of three-dimensional anisotropy contrast (3DAC) magnetic resonance (MR) axonography, a method sensitive to neuronal fibers and their directionality, was investigated in the clinical setting using a 3-tesla MR imaging system based on a General Electric Signa platform. The study focused on healthy volunteers and patients with common structural central nervous system disorders, namely chronic infarction, brainstem cavernous hemangioma, supratentorial meningioma, and astrocytoma. Three orthogonal anisotropic diffusion-weighted images were first obtained. Three primary colors were each assigned to a diffusion-weighted image, respectively, and the images were subsequently combined into a single-color image in full-color spectrum (3DAC MR axonography image). Fiber-tract definition in the cerebral peduncle of the midbrain of healthy volunteers showed intersubject variation, with two general patterns recognized: dispersed (60% of cases) and compact (40% of cases). Pathological alterations in the fiber tracts were readily identified in cases involving wallerian degeneration of the pyramidal tract, as illustrated in the cases of chronic infarction. Displacement of major tracts, such as the medial lemniscus or corticospinal tract, as well as fiber directionality, was also easily recognized in cases of mass lesions. As an imaging method uniquely capable of providing information regarding axonal connectivity, 3DAC MR axonography appears to have promising potential for routine clinical application.

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Benjamin M. Ellingson and Langston T. Holly

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Atsuko Harada, Yukihiko Fujii, Yuichiro Yoneoka, Shigekazu Takeuchi, Ryuichi Tanaka and Tsutomu Nakada

Object. The purpose of this study was to assess the utility of high-field magnetic resonance (MR) imaging as a quantitative tool for estimating cerebral circulation in patients with moyamoya disease.

Methods. Eighteen patients with moyamoya disease who were scheduled to undergo revascularization surgery and 100 healthy volunteers were examined using T2-reversed MR imaging performed using a 3-tesla system. Ten of the 18 patients underwent a second study between 1 year and 3 years after revascularization. Magnetic resonance images obtained in the patients with moyamoya disease were statistically analyzed and compared with those obtained in healthy volunteers. The MR imaging findings were also correlated with results of single-photon emission computerized tomography and conventional cerebral angiography studies.

Transverse lines in the white matter (medullary streaks) were observed in almost all persons. In healthy volunteers, the diameter sizes of the medullary streaks increased significantly with age (p < 0.001). Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that age-adjusted medullary streak diameters were significantly larger in patients with moyamoya disease (p < 0.001). Diameter sizes also increased significantly with the increased severity of cerebral hypoperfusion (p < 0.001) and a higher angiographically determined stage of the disease (p < 0.001). Diameter sizes decreased significantly after surgery (p < 0.001).

Conclusions. The increases in medullary streak diameters observed in patients with moyamoya disease appear to represent vessels dilated due to cerebral hypoperfusion. High-field T2-reversed MR imaging is useful in estimating cerebral circulation in patients with moyamoya disease.