Electrical stimulation-induced speech-related negative motor responses in the lateral frontal cortex

J Neurosurg. 2021 Dec 24;1-9. doi: 10.3171/2021.9.JNS211069. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Speech arrest is a common but crucial negative motor response (NMR) recorded during intraoperative brain mapping. However, recent studies have reported nonspeech-specific NMR sites in the ventral precentral gyrus (vPrCG), where stimulation halts both speech and ongoing hand movement. The aim of this study was to investigate the spatial relationship between speech-specific NMR sites and nonspeech-specific NMR sites in the lateral frontal cortex.

Methods: In this prospective cohort study, an intraoperative mapping strategy was designed to identify positive motor response (PMR) sites and NMR sites in 33 consecutive patients undergoing awake craniotomy for the treatment of left-sided gliomas. Patients were asked to count, flex their hands, and simultaneously perform these two tasks to map NMRs. Each site was plotted onto a standard atlas and further analyzed. The speech and hand motor arrest sites in the supplementary motor area of 2 patients were resected. The 1- and 3-month postoperative language and motor functions of all patients were assessed.

Results: A total of 91 PMR sites and 72 NMR sites were identified. NMR and PMR sites were anteroinferiorly and posterosuperiorly distributed in the precentral gyrus, respectively. Three distinct NMR sites were identified: 24 pure speech arrest (speech-specific NMR) sites (33.33%), 7 pure hand motor arrest sites (9.72%), and 41 speech and hand motor arrest (nonspeech-specific NMR) sites (56.94%). Nonspeech-specific NMR sites and speech-specific NMR sites were dorsoventrally distributed in the vPrCG. For language function, 1 of 2 patients in the NMA resection group had language dysfunction at the 1-month follow-up but had recovered by the 3-month follow-up. All patients in the NMA resection group had fine motor dysfunction at the 1- and 3-month follow-ups.

Conclusions: The study results demonstrated a functional segmentation of speech-related NMRs in the lateral frontal cortex and that most of the stimulation-induced speech arrest sites are not specific to speech. A better understanding of the spatial distribution of speech-related NMR sites will be helpful in surgical planning and intraoperative mapping and provide in-depth insight into the motor control of speech production.

Keywords: direct electrical stimulation; gliomas; negative motor response; speech arrest; surgical technique; ventral precentral gyrus.