Children with congenital left hemisphere damage due to perinatal stroke are capable of acquiring relatively normal language functions despite experiencing a cortical insult that in adults often leads to devastating lifetime disabilities. Although this observed phenomenon is accepted, its neurobiological mechanisms are not well characterized. In this paper we examined the functional neuroanatomy of lexical processing in 13 children/adolescents with perinatal left hemispheric damage. In contrast to many previous perinatal infarct fMRI studies, we used an event-related design, which allowed us to isolate trial-related activity and examine correct and error trials separately. Using both group and single subject analysis techniques we attempt to address several methodological factors that may contribute to some discrepancies in the perinatal lesion literature. These methodological factors include making direct statistical comparisons, using common stereotactic space, using both single subject and group analyses, and accounting for performance differences. Our group analysis, investigating correct trial-related activity (separately from error trials), showed very few statistical differences in the non-involved right hemisphere between patients and performance matched controls. The single subject analysis revealed atypical regional activation patterns in several patients; however, the location of these regions identified in individual patients often varied across subjects. These results are consistent with the idea that alternative functional organization of trial-related activity after left hemisphere lesions is in large part unique to the individual. In addition, reported differences between results obtained with event-related designs and blocked designs may suggest diverging organizing principles for sustained and trial-related activity after early childhood brain injuries.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank Mark McAvoy and Abraham Z. Snyder for their assistance with data analysis. This work was supported by NIH Grants NS053425 (BLS), NS41255 and NS46424 (SEP), the John Merck Scholars Fund , the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund , the Dana Foundation, and the Ogle Family Fund (BLS), the Washington University Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship and UNCF/Merck Graduate and Postgraduate Science Research Fellowship (DAF).