The effects of left or right hemispheric epilepsy on language networks investigated with semantic decision fMRI task and independent component analysis

Prasanna Karunanayaka, Kwang Ki Kim, Scott K. Holland, Jerzy P. Szaflarski

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25 Scopus citations


Chronic and progressive brain injury, as seen in epilepsy, may alter brain networks that underlie cognitive functions. To evaluate the effect of epilepsy on language functions we investigated the neuroanatomical basis of semantic processing in patients with left (LHE) or right (RHE) hemispheric onset epilepsy using semantic decision fMRI paradigm and group independent component analysis (ICA); we then compared the results of our investigations with language networks in healthy subjects examined with the same language task (Kim K, Karunanayaka P, Privitera M, Holland S, Szaflarski J. Semantic association investigated with fMRI and independent component analysis. In press). Group ICA is a data-driven technique capable of revealing the functional organization of the human brain based on fMRI data. In addition to providing functional connectivity information, ICA can also provide information about the temporal dynamics of underlying networks subserving specific cognitive functions. In this study, we implemented two complementary analyses to investigate group differences in underlying network dynamics based on associated independent component (IC) time courses (a priori defined criterion or a posteriori identified maximum likelihood descriptor). We detected several differences between healthy controls and patients with epilepsy not previously observed with standard fMRI analysis methods. Our analyses confirmed the presence of different effects of LHE or RHE on the behavior of the language network. In particular, a major difference was noted in the nodes subserving verbal encoding and retrieval in the bilateral medial temporal regions. These effects were dependent on the side of the epilepsy onset; that is, effects were different with left or right hemispheric epilepsy. These findings may explain the differences in verbal and nonverbal memory abilities between patients with left and those with right hemispheric epilepsy. Further, although the effects on other nodes of the network were more subtle, several deviations from normal network function were observed in patients with LHE (e.g., alterations in the functions of the primarily left frontotemporal network module) or in patients with RHE (e.g., differences in the medial retrosplenial module responsible for mental imagery or in the anterior cingulate module subserving attention control). These findings not only highlight the negative effects of epilepsy on the main left hemispheric language network nodes in patients with LHE, but also document the effects of epilepsy on other language network nodes whether exerted by LHE or RHE. Further, these results document the advantages of using group ICA for investigating the effects of disease state (e.g., epilepsy) on the network subserving cognitive processing and provide an interesting avenue for further exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-632
Number of pages10
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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