Decoupling of functional and structural language networks in temporal lobe epilepsy

Karin Trimmel, Sjoerd B Vos, Lorenzo Caciagli, Fenglai Xiao, Louis A van Graan, Gavin P Winston, Matthias J Koepp, Pamela J Thompson, John S Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To identify functional and structural alterations in language networks of people with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), who frequently present with naming and word-finding difficulties.

METHODS: Fifty-five patients with unilateral TLE (29 left) and 16 controls were studied with auditory and picture naming functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tasks. Activation maxima in the left posterobasal temporal lobe were used as seed regions for whole-brain functional connectivity analyses (psychophysiological interaction). White matter language pathways were investigated using diffusion tensor imaging and neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging metrics extracted along fiber bundles starting from fMRI-guided seeds. Regression analyses were performed to investigate the correlation of functional connectivity with diffusion MRI metrics.

RESULTS: In the whole group of patients and controls, weaker functional connectivity from the left posterobasal temporal lobe (1) to the bilateral anterior temporal lobe, precentral gyrus, and lingual gyrus during auditory naming and (2) to the bilateral occipital cortex and right fusiform gyrus during picture naming was associated with decreased neurite orientation dispersion and higher free water fraction of white matter tracts. Compared to controls, TLE patients exhibited fewer structural connections and an impaired coupling of functional and structural metrics.

SIGNIFICANCE: TLE is associated with an impairment and decoupling of functional and structural language networks. White matter damage, as evidenced by diffusion abnormalities, may contribute to impaired functional connectivity and language dysfunction in TLE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2941-2954
Number of pages14
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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