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Brain Lang. 1998 May;62(3):422-51.

Brain organization of language after early unilateral lesion: a PET study.

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Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University.


Neuropsychological studies suggest that good long-term language outcome is possible following extensive early left-hemisphere damage. We explored the brain organization for language in children with early unilateral lesion, using [15O]-water PET. In 12 patients with left lesion (LL) and 9 patients with right lesion (RL), cerebral blood flow changes during listening to sentences and repetition were studied. A rightward shift of language activations in the LL group was found in perisylvian areas and multiple other, mostly temporo-parietal, regions. The hypothesis of intrahemispheric reorganization in the LL group found only limited support. The number of activated regions was overall greater in the RL group. Unexpected findings included a stronger subcortical and cerebellar language involvement in the RL group. We suggest that (a) early left lesion is associated with enhanced language participation of the right hemisphere in and beyond the classical language areas, and (b) postlesional effects are in part additive (recruitment of noncanonical areas), in part subtractive (functional depression in areas normally involved in language).

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