Resting-state hippocampal networks related to language processing reveal unique patterns in temporal lobe epilepsy

Epilepsy Behav. 2021 Apr;117:107834. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2021.107834. Epub 2021 Feb 18.


Objective: Patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) commonly experience a broad range of language impairments. These deficits are thought to arise from repeated seizure activity that damages language regions. However, connectivity between the seizure onset region in the hippocampus and regions related to language processing has rarely been studied, and could also have a strong impact on language function. The purpose of this study was to use resting-state functional connectivity (FC) measures to assess hippocampal network patterns and their relation to language abilities in patients with right TLE (RLTE), left TLE (LTLE), and healthy controls.

Methods: Presurgical resting-state 3T functional MRI data were acquired from 40 patients with mesial TLE (27 RTLE, 13 LTLE) and 54 controls. The regions of interest were the anterior and posterior bilateral hippocampi and eleven regions grouped by frontal or temporo-parietal locations, including large areas of language-related cortex. FC values were computed with the right/left anterior and posterior hippocampi as the seeds and frontal and temporo-parietal regions as targets. Resting-state lateralization indices were also calculated (LI-Rest), and all FC measures were correlated to neuropsychological language scores and measures related to manifestation of epilepsy including age of onset, duration of disease, monthly seizure frequency, and hippocampal volume.

Results: We found significant group differences between the anterior hippocampi and temporo-parietal regions closest to the seizure focus, in which RTLE and LTLE showed stronger connectivity to their contralateral hippocampus, while controls showed similar connectivity to both hippocampi. In addition, LI-Rest demonstrated significantly more right lateralization in LTLE compared to RTLE for temporo-parietal regions only. In LTLE, we found significant associations between stronger hippocampal network resting-state FC and later age of onset and decreased left anterior hippocampal volume.

Significance: The results of our study indicate that the presence of TLE impacts hippocampal-temporo-parietal networks relevant to language processing.

Keywords: Functional connectivity; Hippocampus; Language; MRI; Temporal lobe epilepsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe* / diagnostic imaging
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging