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Brain organization for language in children, adolescents, and adults with left hemisphere lesion: a PET study.

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Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University Medical School, Detroit, MI, USA.


1. There is evidence for pronounced brain plasticity during postnatal maturation. The authors hypothesized that left-hemisphere lesion would be associated with greater than normal language participation of the right hemisphere and that atypical asymmetry of perisylvian language activations would be enhanced after lesion occurring in early childhood as compared to lesion occurring later in life. 2. Eleven patients with left-hemisphere lesion (aged 8-33 yrs.) and 9 normal adult comparison subjects were studied, using [15O]-water positron emission tomography. One patient group (N = 6) had early lesion onset (< or = 6 years of age), a second group (N = 5) had lesion onset later in life (> or = 10 years of age). Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) changes during listening to sentences (minus rest) and sentence generation (minus repetition) were compared between groups in predefined regions of interest. 3. Variance of regional activations within early and late lesion onset groups was considerable and qualitative inspection revealed only few robust group differences. However, when 4 patient pairs were approximately matched for chronological age, lesion site and VIQ, significantly reduced leftward asymmetry of activations in early lesion patients was found in the prefrontal, inferior frontal, and inferior parietal regions for expressive language, with concordant and marginally significant trends in the inferior frontal and superior temporal regions for receptive language. 4. The results suggest enhanced postlesional plasticity in childhood, while also reflecting strong individual variability probably due to clinical and demographic factors beside lesion onset.

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