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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51872. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051872. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Language lateralization in children aged 10 to 11 years: a combined fMRI and dichotic listening study.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



The aims of this study were to develop and assess a method to map language networks in children with two auditory fMRI protocols in combination with a dichotic listening task (DL). The method is intended for pediatric patients prior to epilepsy surgery. To evaluate the potential clinical usefulness of the method we first wanted to assess data from a group of healthy children.


In a first step language test materials were developed, intended for subsequent implementation in fMRI protocols. An evaluation of this material was done in 30 children with typical development, 10 from the 1(st), 4(th) and the 7(th) grade, respectively. The language test material was then adapted and implemented in two fMRI protocols intended to target frontal and posterior language networks. In a second step language lateralization was assessed in 17 typical 10-11 year olds with fMRI and DL. To reach a conclusion about language lateralization, firstly, quantitative analyses of the index data from the two fMRI tasks and the index data from the DL task were done separately. In a second step a set of criteria were applied to these results to reach a conclusion about language lateralization. The steps of these analyses are described in detail.


The behavioral assessment of the language test material showed that it was well suited for typical children. The results of the language lateralization assessments, based on fMRI data and DL data, showed that for 15 of the 17 subjects (88%) a conclusion could be reached about hemispheric language dominance. In 2 cases (12%) DL provided critical data.


The employment of DL combined with language mapping using fMRI for assessing hemispheric language dominance is novel and it was deemed valuable since it provided additional information compared to the results gained from each method individually.

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