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A minimal standardization setting for language mapping tests: an Italian example


During awake surgery, picture-naming tests are administered to identify brain structures related to language function (language mapping), and to avoid iatrogenic damage. Before and after surgery, naming tests and other neuropsychological procedures aim at charting naming abilities, and at detecting which items the subject can respond to correctly. To achieve this goal, sufficiently large samples of normed and standardized stimuli must be available for preoperative and postoperative testing, and to prepare intraoperative tasks, the latter only including items named flawlessly preoperatively. To discuss design, norming and presentation of stimuli, and to describe the minimal standardization setting used to develop two sets of Italian stimuli, one for object naming and one for verb naming, respectively. The setting includes a naming study (to obtain picture-name agreement ratings), two on-line questionnaires (to acquire age-of-acquisition and imageability ratings for all test items), and the norming of other relevant language variables. The two sets of stimuli have >80 % picture-name agreement, high levels of internal consistency and reliability for imageability and age of acquisition ratings. They are normed for psycholinguistic variables known to affect lexical access and retrieval, and are validated in a clinical population. This framework can be used to increase the probability of reliably detecting language impairments before and after surgery, to prepare intraoperative tests based on sufficient knowledge of pre-surgical language abilities in each patient, and to decrease the probability of false positives during surgery. Examples of data usage are provided. Normative data can be found in the supplementary materials.

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  1. We provide a MATLAB script to calculate the H-Statistic (see Supplementary materials).


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Funding was provided by PAT (Provincia Autonoma di Trento) and Fondazione CaRiTRO (Cassa di Risparmio di Trento e Rovereto) to GM; and by an Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate grant (IDEALAB: Macquarie University, Newcastle University, University of Groningen, University of Trento and University of Potsdam) to AR and VDA (agreement number 2012-0025; cohort 2012-1713). We thank Lyndsey Nickels, Pablo Rodríguez Sánchez, Giovanna Cappelletti, Arianna Zuanazzi, and Alberto Morandi for help in different stages of this project. The illustrations of the VISC were made by Victor Xandri Antolín.

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Correspondence to Gabriele Miceli.

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Rofes, A., de Aguiar, V. & Miceli, G. A minimal standardization setting for language mapping tests: an Italian example. Neurol Sci 36, 1113–1119 (2015).

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  • Norming
  • Picture naming
  • Test
  • Awake surgery
  • Verbs
  • Nouns