Objective: Functional connectivity maps the distributed network of brain regions fluctuating synchronously during a continuous brain state. This study sought to investigate whether patients with left temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) differ from controls in their resting-state functional connectivity between typical language regions.
Methods: We studied 17 patients with left TLE, together with eight healthy controls, using seeded functional connectivity. Seed regions were defined using the regions of maximal activation and deactivation during a language functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task in a separate cohort of 30 controls.
Results: Language fMRI produced the expected activation pattern, which was not different between patients and controls. However, functional connectivity between language areas during rest was markedly different; whereas controls showed connectivity between each of the seed areas and the majority of the language areas, patients showed connectivity only with a few areas, particularly the seed area itself. This difference was significant in the direct comparison of patients and control connectivity maps.
Interpretation: We suggest that this reduced connectivity in left temporal lobe epilepsy may reflect a disturbance of the language network during resting state in patients and may be related to subtle language difficulties in this patient population.