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Functional MRI evidence for language plasticity in adult epileptic patients: Preliminary results

Authors Cousin E, Baciu M, Pichat C, Kahane P, Le Bas J

Published 8 February 2008 Volume 2008:4(1) Pages 235—246


Emilie Cousin1, Monica Baciu1, Cédric Pichat1, Philippe Kahane2, Jean-François Le Bas3

1UMR CNRS/UPMF 5105, Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition; 2Laboratoire de Neurophysiopathologie de l’Epilepsie, CHU Grenoble; 3Unité IRM, CHU Grenoble, France

Abstract: The present fMRI study explores the cerebral reorganisation of language in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy, according to the age of seizures onset (early or late) and the hippocampal sclerosis (associated or not). Seven right-handed control volunteers and seven preoperative adult epileptic patients performed a rhyme decision (language condition) and a visual detection (control condition) tasks in visually presented words and unreadable characters, respectively. All patients were left hemisphere dominant for language. Appropriate statistical analyses provided the following preliminary results: (1) patients compared with healthy subjects showed lower degree of hemispheric lateralization with supplementary involvement of the right hemisphere; (2) the degree of hemispheric specialization depends on the considered region; (3) patients with early seizures show signs of temporal and parietal reorganization more frequently than patients with late onset of seizures; (4) patients with early seizures show a tendency for intra-hemispheric frontal reorganisation; (5) associated hippocampal sclerosis facilitates the inter-hemispheric shift of temporal activation. Although our patients were left hemisphere predominant for language, the statistical analyses indicated that the degree of lateralization was significantly lower than in healthy subjects. This result has been considered as the indication of atypical lateralization of language.

Keywords: language, fMRI, plasticity, temporal epilepsy, age, hippocampal sclerosis

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