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Presurgical Language Mapping

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Neurosurgical procedures for tumors or intractable epilepsy are often accompanied by risk to postoperative cognitive function; surgery in the left temporal or frontal lobes, for example, can place language functions at risk. Hence, prior to tissue extraction, one common surgical goal is to attempt to identify frontal and temporal regions that should be spared in order to preserve language function. We describe how basic research on false memory for word lists has led to a novel approach for identifying such language-related regions in healthy controls. That is, rapid presentation of semantically related words (e.g., bed, rest, awake) and phonologically related words (e.g., peep, weep, heap) with instructions to attend to relations among the words elicits activity in underlying language networks. Furthermore, it is often possible to identify the neural underpinnings of these networks in an individual person in about an hour of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. We conclude by suggesting directions for future research with this lexical-processing protocol, the overarching goal being to link basic cognitive science and clinical practice.
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Keywords: fMRI; false memory; language; neuroimaging; phonological; semantic

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Washington University in St. Louis and 2: University of Washington

Publication date: 01 December 2005

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