Structure and function of language networks in temporal lobe epilepsy

Lawrence P. Binding*, Debayan Dasgupta, Davide Giampiccolo, John S. Duncan, Sjoerd B. Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) may have significant language deficits. Language capabilities may further decline following temporal lobe resections. The language network, comprising dispersed gray matter regions interconnected with white matter fibers, may be atypical in individuals with TLE. This review explores the structural changes to the language network and the functional reorganization of language abilities in TLE. We discuss the importance of detailed reporting of patient's characteristics, such as, left- and right-sided focal epilepsies as well as lesional and nonlesional pathological subtypes. These factors can affect the healthy functioning of gray and/or white matter. Dysfunction of white matter and displacement of gray matter function could concurrently impact their ability, in turn, producing an interactive effect on typical language organization and function. Surgical intervention can result in impairment of function if the resection includes parts of this structure-function network that are critical to language. In addition, impairment may occur if language function has been reorganized and is included in a resection. Conversely, resection of an epileptogenic zone may be associated with recovery of cortical function and thus improvement in language function. We explore the abnormality of functional regions in a clinically applicable framework and highlight the differences in the underlying language network. Avoidance of language decline following surgical intervention may depend on tailored resections to avoid critical areas of gray matter and their white matter connections. Further work is required to elucidate the plasticity of the language network in TLE and to identify sub-types of language representation, both of which will be useful in planning surgery to spare language function.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Epilepsy Research UK (grant number P1904) and Wellcome Trust Innovation Program (218380/Z/19/Z). This work was partly funded by the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR BRC UCLH/UCL High Impact Initiative The authors acknowledge the facilities and scientific and technical assistance of the National Imaging Facility, a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) capability, at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation, and Analysis, the University of Western Australia.

Funding Information:
Superior temporal gyrus involvement in phonological tasks in TLE patients is supported by DES research, with middle and posterior STG stimulation inducing phonological errors. In RTLE patients and healthy controls, reading comprehension was associated with bilateral STG fMRI activation, whereas LTLE patients showed sub‐threshold activation. These findings indicate inconsistencies in the role of the STG in TLE. 58 8

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Epilepsia published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International League Against Epilepsy


  • anterior temporal lobe resection
  • cortical region
  • gray matter
  • tractography
  • white matter bundles


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