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Epileptic Disord. 2007 Sep;9(3):241-55. Epub 2007 Sep 20.

Near-infrared spectroscopy as an alternative to the Wada test for language mapping in children, adults and special populations.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Sainte-Justine, Montréal, Qc, Canada.


The intracarotid amobarbital test (IAT) is the most widely used procedure for pre-surgical evaluation of language lateralization in epileptic patients. However, apart from being invasive, this technique is not applicable in young children or patients who present mental retardation and/or language deficits. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is increasingly employed as a non-invasive alternative. Again, this method is more difficult to use with young children, especially hyperactive ones, since they have to remain motionless during data acquisition. The aim of this study was to determine whether near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) can be used as an alternative technique to investigate language lateralization in children and special populations. Unlike Wada test, NIRS is non-invasive, and it is more tolerant to movement artefacts than fMRI. In the present study, NIRS data were acquired in four epileptic children, a 12-year-old boy with pervasive developmental disorder and a 3-year-old, healthy child, as well as three healthy and two epileptic adults, while they performed a verbal fluency task and a control task. When applicable, the results were compared to the subjects' fMRI and/or IAT findings. Clear laterality of speech was obtained in all participants, including the two non-epileptic children, and NIRS results matched fMRI and IAT findings. These results, if replicable in larger samples, are encouraging and suggest that NIRS has the potential to become a viable, non-invasive alternative to IAT and fMRI in the determination of speech lateralization in children and clinical populations that cannot be submitted to more invasive techniques.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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