The diminishing dominance of the dominant hemisphere: Language fMRI in focal epilepsy
AuthorTailby, C; Abbott, DF; Jackson, GD
Source TitleNeuroImage: Clinical
PublisherELSEVIER SCI LTD
AffiliationFlorey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
Medicine (Austin & Northern Health)
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsTailby, C., Abbott, D. F. & Jackson, G. D. (2017). The diminishing dominance of the dominant hemisphere: Language fMRI in focal epilepsy. NEUROIMAGE-CLINICAL, 14, pp.141-150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2017.01.011.
Access StatusOpen Access
"Which is the dominant hemisphere?" is a question that arises frequently in patients considered for neurosurgery. The concept of the dominant hemisphere implies uniformity of language lateralisation throughout the brain. It is increasingly recognised that this is not the case in the healthy control brain, and it is especially not so in neurological diseases such as epilepsy. In the present work we adapt our published objective lateralisation method (based on the construction of laterality curves) for use with sub-lobar cortical, subcortical and cerebellar regions of interest (ROIs). We apply this method to investigate regional lateralisation of language activation in 12 healthy controls and 18 focal epilepsy patients, using three different block design language fMRI paradigms, each tapping different aspects of language processing. We compared lateralisation within each ROI across tasks, and investigated how the quantity of data collected affected the ability to robustly estimate laterality across ROIs. In controls, lateralisation was stronger, and the variance across individuals smaller, in cortical ROIs, particularly in the Inferior Frontal (Broca) region. Lateralisation within temporal ROIs was dependent on the nature of the language task employed. One of the healthy controls was left lateralised anteriorly and right lateralised posteriorly. Consistent with previous work, departures from normality occurred in ~ 15-50% of focal epilepsy patients across the different ROIs, with atypicality most common in the Lateral Temporal (Wernicke) region. Across tasks and ROIs the absolute magnitude of the laterality estimate increased and its across participant variance decreased as more cycles of task and rest were included, stabilising at ~ 4 cycles (~ 4 min of data collection). Our data highlight the importance of considering language as a complex task where lateralisation varies at the subhemispheric scale. This is especially important for presurgical planning for focal resections where the concept of 'hemispheric dominance' may be misleading. This is a precision medicine approach that enables objective evaluation of language dominance within specific brain regions and can reveal surprising and unexpected anomalies that may be clinically important for individual cases.
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