Rethinking clinical language mapping approaches: discordant receptive and expressive hemispheric language dominance in epilepsy surgery candidates

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Jun;28(3):278-88. doi: 10.1097/WNP.0b013e31821c321d.


Neuroimaging studies have shed light on cortical language organization, with findings implicating the left and right temporal lobes in speech processing converging to a left-dominant pattern. Findings highlight the fact that the state of theoretical language knowledge is ahead of current clinical language mapping methods, motivating a rethinking of these approaches. The authors used magnetoencephalography and multiple tasks in seven candidates for resective epilepsy surgery to investigate language organization. The authors scanned 12 control subjects to investigate the time course of bilateral receptive speech processes. Laterality indices were calculated for left and right hemisphere late fields ∼150 to 400 milliseconds. The authors report that (1) in healthy adults, speech processes activated superior temporal regions bilaterally converging to a left-dominant pattern, (2) in four of six patients, this was reversed, with bilateral processing converging to a right-dominant pattern, and (3) in three of four of these patients, receptive and expressive language processes were laterally discordant. Results provide evidence that receptive and expressive language may have divergent hemispheric dominance. Right-sided receptive language dominance in epilepsy patients emphasizes the need to assess both receptive and expressive language. Findings indicate that it is critical to use multiple tasks tapping separable aspects of language function to provide sensitive and specific estimates of language localization in surgical patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / surgery
  • Dominance, Cerebral*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult