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Neuroimage. 2003 Feb;18(2):423-38.

Quantitative fMRI assessment of the differences in lateralization of language-related brain activation in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.

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Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB), Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.


Defining language lateralization is important to minimize morbidity in patients treated surgically for temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) offers a promising, noninvasive, alternative strategy to the Wada test. Here we have used fMRI to study healthy controls and patients with TLE in order to (i) define language-related activation patterns and their reproducibility; (ii) compare lateralization determined by fMRI with those from of the Wada test; and (iii) contrast different methods of assessing fMRI lateralization. Twelve healthy right-handed controls and 19 right-handed preoperative patients with TLE (12 left- and seven right-TLE) were studied at 3T using fMRI and a verbal fluency paradigm. A Wada test also was performed on each of the patients. Greater activation was found in several areas in the right hemisphere for the left-TLE group relative to controls or right-TLE patients. Relative hemispheric activations calculated based on either the extent or the mean signal change gave consistent results showing a more bihemispheric language representation in the left-TLE patients. There was good agreement between the Wada and fMRI results, although the latter were more sensitive to involvement of the nondominant right hemisphere. The reproducibility of the fMRI values was lowest for the more bihemispherically represented left-TLE patients. Overall, our results further demonstrate that noninvasive fMRI measures of language-related lateralization may provide a practical and reliable alternative to invasive testing for presurgical language lateralization in patients with TLE. The high proportion (33%) of left-TLE patients showing bilateral or right hemispheric language-related lateralization suggests that there is considerable plasticity of language representation in the brains of patients with intractable TLE.

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