Sensorimotor performance and rotation correlate to lesion size in right but not left hemisphere brain infarcts in the spontaneously hypertensive rat
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In order to correlate behavioural deficits to lesion size and to reveal possible functional asymmetries in the rat brain, locomotor activity, rotation and sensorimotor integration to touch were studied in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) subjected to right or left middle cerebral artery occlusion. Control and infarcted rats showed no difference in locomotor activity. Infarcted rats tended to rotate towards the side of the lesion. A large sensorimotor deficit was found contralateral to the infarcted hemisphere. The absolute values of the side-biases for the rotation and sensorimotor tests were of the same degree irrespective of lesion side. Whereas the left hemisphere lesion size did not correlate to the behavioural outcome, the size of the right hemisphere lesion was highly correlated to the total sensorimotor deficit. Furthermore, the sensorimotor deficit of specific body parts was found to correlate to the damage of certain brain regions in a rostrocaudal fashion, reminiscent of a somatotopical organization. The extent of ipsilateral rotation correlated to brain tissue loss at the level of the posterior caudate-putamen. The present results indicate an asymmetrical organization for brain functions involved in the performance of the rotation and sensorimotor tests.