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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 1998 Jan;19(1):73-7.

Hemispheric language dominance studied with functional MR: preliminary study in healthy volunteers and patients with epilepsy.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



We used functional MR imaging to compare hemispheric language dominance in healthy volunteers and in patients with epilepsy.


We retrospectively reviewed the functional MR images of 23 healthy volunteers and 16 patients with epilepsy obtained by using an echo-planar technique designed for whole-brain imaging. The activation paradigm used was a silent word generation task. Hemispheric language dominance was assessed as the percentage of activated pixels in the left hemisphere minus the percentage of activated pixels in the right hemisphere x 100.


We found no significant difference in language lateralization between right-handed male and right-handed female volunteers. However, a statistically significant difference in language distribution was found between left- and right-handed female volunteers. The left-handed female volunteers showed a more bilateral hemispheric language lateralization. Language lateralization in right-handed male epilepsy patients with early age at seizure onset and seizure locus in the left temporal lobe was not significantly different from that of healthy right-handed male volunteers. Similarly, we found no difference in language lateralization between right-handed female volunteers and right-handed female epilepsy patients with late age at seizure onset and seizures in the left temporal lobe.


Handedness has a significant influence on hemispheric language dominance in healthy volunteers. Sex has no influence on hemispheric language dominance, regardless of the task used to assess such dominance, nor does age at seizure onset influence language lateralization in patients with left temporal lobe epilepsy. Therefore, hemispheric language dominance can be assessed and compared effectively with functional MR imaging.

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