Interhemispheric dissociation of expressive and receptive language functions in patients with complex-partial seizures: an amobarbital study

Brain Lang. 1992 Nov;43(4):694-712. doi: 10.1016/0093-934x(92)90091-r.


Bilateral intracarotid amobarbital procedures (IAP) were performed in 144 patients with medically intractable complex-partial seizures. As a result of language testing, 29 patients (20.1%) were found to have bilateral language representation to different degrees. In four (2.8%) of these patients--all right-handers with early onset of epilepsy and/or evidence of early brain damage--there was strong evidence of an interhemispheric dissociation of expressive and receptive language functions. Two of these patients had circumscribed temporal foci (one left, one right), and receptive language functions were represented in the hemisphere contralateral to the focus. One patient with a right frontal focus showed left-hemisphere dominance for expressive functions, while the fourth patient exhibited left-hemisphere dominance for receptive functions associated with a right temporo-parietal focus. It is argued that in these four cases the circumscribed functional and/or structural impairments have led to a shift of the anatomically associated language functions to the opposite hemisphere (rather than to neighboring regions of the same hemisphere). These findings substantiate the hypothesis that in special circumstances the anterior (expressive) language area can be located in one hemisphere and the posterior (receptive) area in the other.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amobarbital
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / complications
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Complex Partial / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Disorders / physiopathology
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcotherapy*
  • Speech
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Vocabulary
  • Wechsler Scales


  • Amobarbital