fMRI shows atypical language lateralization in pediatric epilepsy patients

Epilepsia. 2006 Mar;47(3):593-600. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2006.00474.x.


Purpose: The goal of this study was to compare language lateralization between pediatric epilepsy patients and healthy children.

Methods: Two groups of subjects were evaluated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) by using a silent verb-generation task. The first group included 18 pediatric epilepsy patients, whereas the control group consisted of 18 age/gender/handedness-matched healthy subjects.

Results: A significant difference in hemispheric lateralization index (LI) was found between children with epilepsy (mean LI =-0.038) and the age/gender/handedness-matched healthy control subjects (mean LI=0.257; t=6.490, p<0.0001). A dramatic difference also was observed in the percentage of children with epilepsy (77.78%) who had atypical LI (right-hemispheric or bilateral, LI<0.1) when compared with the age/gender/handedness-matched group (11.11%; chi(2)=16.02, p<0.001). A linear regression analysis showed a trend toward increasing language lateralization with age in healthy controls (R(2)=0.152; p=0.108). This association was not observed in pediatric epilepsy subjects (R(2)=0.004, p=0.80). A significant association between language LI and epilepsy duration also was found (R(2)=0.234, p<0.05).

Conclusions: This study shows that epilepsy during childhood is associated with neuroplasticity and reorganization of language function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology