Functional organization of the brain with malformations of cortical development

Ann Neurol. 2003 Jun;53(6):759-67. doi: 10.1002/ana.10545.


We examined the localization of cerebral functions in 28 patients with focal epilepsy and malformations of cortical development (MCDs). Polymicrogyria occurred in nine, hemimegalencephaly in four, heterotopia in eight, and focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) in nine cases. We used simple (sensomotor, visual) or complex (language, memory) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigms. Two thirds of MCDs were activated by simple fMRI paradigms, whereas they less frequently showed activity during complex cognitive fMRI paradigms. During simple paradigms, all disturbances of cortical organization (polymicrogyria, schizencephaly, and mild-type FCD) showed activity, whereas other MCDs (disturbances of earlier steps of cortical development: hemimegalencephaly, Taylor-type FCD, and heterotopia) showed activity in only 44% (p < 0.01). The association between the pathophysiology and morphology of MCDs confirms the recently proposed classification system. Both focal neurological signs (p < 0.05) and focal electroencephalogram slowing (p < 0.05) independently correlated with MCD inactivity, confirming that fMRI showed neuronal functions of MCDs. Conclusively, fMRI visualizes the MCD functions and their relationship to the eloquent cortex, providing useful information before epilepsy surgery. Surgery of cortical organization disturbances should be cautiously performed because these malformations may participate to some degree in brain functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / abnormalities*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Disorders / epidemiology
  • Language Disorders / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination
  • Severity of Illness Index