, Volume 145, Issue 2, pp 166-176
Date: 08 May 2002

Non-invasive regime for language lateralization in right and left-handers by means of functional MRI and dichotic listening

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Language lateralization was assessed by two independent functional techniques, fMRI and a dichotic listening test (DLT), in an attempt to establish a reliable and non-invasive protocol of dominance determination. This should particularly address the high intraindividual variability of language lateralization and allow decision-making in individual cases. Functional MRI of word classification tasks showed robust language lateralization in 17 right-handers and 17 left-handers in terms of activation in the inferior frontal gyrus. The DLT was introduced as a complementary tool to MR mapping for language dominance assessment, providing information on perceptual language processing located in superior temporal cortices. The overall agreement of lateralization assessment between the two techniques was 97.1%. Conflicting results were found in one subject, and diverging indices in ten further subjects. Increasing age, non-familial sinistrality, and a non-dominant writing hand were identified as the main factors explaining the observed mismatch between the two techniques. This finding stresses the concept of an intrahemispheric distribution of language function that is obviously associated with certain behavioral characteristics.