Olga Boukrina, PhD, senior research scientist in the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, has received a five-year $674,156 K01 grant from the National Institutes of Health Institute on Aging. The grant funds Dr. Boukrina’s continued research on the role of reading deficits as a barrier to aphasia rehabilitation. 

“In this project, we will develop a neurobehavioral reading intervention with the potential to promote post-stroke plasticity,” explained Dr. Boukrina. The study’s overall objective is to provide training and research support while employing a novel approach using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) neurofeedback (NFB) for the rehabilitation of reading disorders after stroke.

Reading impairments affecting 40% of left-hemisphere stroke survivors severely limit life participation. For more than half of individuals with aphasia, reading and language impairments become a chronic condition. “This means that a large proportion of stroke survivors with reading impairments have an incomplete response to rehabilitation,” said Dr. Boukrina, adding, “there is an urgent need for effective early interventions that can improve this statistic.”

“Using fMRI neurofeedback signals provide stroke study participants with real-time information as they practice modulating their brain activity. This information will help them select the most effective mental strategies to maintain brain activation patterns associated with better reading recovery. “Engaging in self-regulation strategies combined with right-hand motor imagery can help stroke participants activate a particular part of the brain. We use the real-time fMRI neurofeedback method to inform them on how well they’re doing in this task,” Dr. Boukrina explained.  

“Once we have a full understanding of the relationship between brain activity in the left hemisphere and the time course of language recovery, then we can begin to implement other interventions that support the return of healthier patterns of brain activity after stroke,” concluded Dr. Boukrina.

[Source(s): Kessler Foundation, EurekAlert]

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