A concordance study determining language dominance between navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation and the Wada test in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy

Epilepsy Behav. 2021 Apr;117:107711. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107711. Epub 2021 Feb 23.


Objective: It remains unclear whether transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can replace the Wada test to determine language hemisphere dominance (HD). Using the Wada test as the gold standard, this study aimed to investigate the accuracy of navigated TMS (nTMS) in determining language HD.

Methods: This study enrolled nine right-handed patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. We hypothesized that application of nTMS to language-related areas of the language-dominant hemisphere would induce positive manifestation of language dysfunction (LD). To test our hypothesis, the patients were instructed to perform a visual object-naming task while nTMS was applied to the anterior (e.g., Broca's area) and posterior (e.g., Wernicke's area) regions, which are closely related to language processing. The Wada test result was used as the gold standard, and the diagnostic value of nTMS was assessed using the Kappa consistency test.

Results: The nTMS-induced LD positive rate for the bilateral anterior language areas (85.7%) was higher than that for the posterior language areas (57.1%). There was high consistency between nTMS stimulation of the left anterior and posterior language areas and the Wada test results for determining language HD. In contrast, the consistency of stimulation of the right anterior and posterior transfer sites was moderate (Kappa value = 0.545, P = 0.171) and low, respectively. For the latter, no statistical calculation was performed because stimulation of the right posterior speech area was negative in all patients compared with the Wada test results.

Conclusions: Our findings revealed that using nTMS to stimulate language-related left anterior and posterior areas could predict language HD with high accuracy. When the stimulation performance of these areas is positive, nTMS and the Wada test are equally accurate. Observing only negative performance may indicate that language HD has been transferred to the right side.

Keywords: Atypical language lateralization; Broca’s area; Wernicke’s area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Speech
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations