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Language dominance in neurologically normal and epilepsy subjects: a functional MRI study. Brain 1999 Nov;122 ( Pt 11):2033-46



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-0032721893   634 Citations


Language dominance and factors that influence language lateralization were investigated in right-handed, neurologically normal subjects (n = 100) and right-handed epilepsy patients (n = 50) using functional MRI. Increases in blood oxygenation-dependent signal during a semantic language activation task relative to a non-linguistic, auditory discrimination task provided an index of language system lateralization. As expected, the majority of both groups showed left hemisphere dominance, although a continuum of activation asymmetry was evident, with nearly all subjects showing some degree of right hemisphere activation. Using a categorical dominance classification, 94% of the normal subjects were considered left hemisphere dominant and 6% had bilateral, roughly symmetric language representation. None of the normal subjects had rightward dominance. There was greater variability of language dominance in the epilepsy group, with 78% showing left hemisphere dominance, 16% showing a symmetric pattern and 6% showing right hemisphere dominance. Atypical language dominance in the epilepsy group was associated with an earlier age of brain injury and with weaker right hand dominance. Language lateralization in the normal group was weakly related to age, but was not significantly related to sex, education, task performance or familial left-handedness.

Author List

Springer JA, Binder JR, Hammeke TA, Swanson SJ, Frost JA, Bellgowan PS, Brewer CC, Perry HM, Morris GL, Mueller WM


Jeffrey R. Binder MD Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Wade M. Mueller MD Professor in the Neurosurgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Sara J. Swanson PhD Chief, Professor in the Neurology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Acoustic Stimulation
Age Factors
Functional Laterality
Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Sex Factors
Speech Perception
Task Performance and Analysis