Noninvasive assessment of language dominance in children and adolescents with functional MRI: A preliminary study

L. Hertz-Pannier, W. D. Gaillard, S. H. Mott, C. A. Cuenod, S. Y. Bookheimer, S. Weinstein, J. Conry, P. H. Papero, Steven Schiff, D. Le Bihan, W. H. Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

343 Scopus citations


Background: Assessment of language organization is crucial in patients considered for epilepsy surgery. In children, the current techniques, intra- carotid amobarbital test (IAT) for language dominance, and cortical electrostimulation mapping (ESM), are invasive and risky. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is an alternative method for noninvasive functional mapping, through the detection of the hemodynamic changes associated with neuronal activation. We used fMRI to assess language dominance in children with partial epilepsy. Methods: Eleven right handed children and adolescents performed a word generation task during fMRI acquisition focused on the frontal lobes. Areas where the signal time course correlated with the test paradigm (r = 0.7) were considered activated. Extent and magnitude of signal changes were used to calculate asymmetry indices. Seven patients had IAT, ESM, or surgery outcome available for comparison. Results: fMRI language dominance always agreed with IAT (6 cases) and ESM (1 case), showing left dominance in six and bilateral language in one. fMRI demonstrated left dominance in three additional children, and right dominance in one with early onset of left temporal epilepsy. Four children whose initial studies were equivocal due to noncompliance or motion artifacts were restudied successfully. Conclusions: fMRI can be used to assess language lateralization noninvasively in children. It has the potential to replace current functional mapping techniques in patients, and to provide important data on brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1012
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


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