Brain imaging methods have contributed to shed light on the mechanisms of recovery after early brain insult. The assumption that the unaffected right hemisphere can take over language functions after left perinatal stroke is still under debate. Here, we report how patterns of brain structural and functional reorganization were associated with language outcomes in a group of four-year-old children with left perinatal arterial ischemic stroke (PAIS). Specifically, we gathered specific fine-grained developmental measures of receptive and productive aspects of language as well as standardized measures of cognitive development. We also collected structural neuroimaging data as well as functional activations during a passive listening story-telling fMRI task and a resting state session (rs-fMRI). Children with a left perinatal stroke showed larger lateralization indices of both structural and functional connectivity of the dorsal language pathway towards the right hemisphere that, in turn, were associated with better language outcomes. Importantly, the pattern of structural asymmetry was significantly more right-lateralized in children with a left perinatal brain insult than in a group of matched healthy controls. These results strongly suggest that early lesions of the left dorsal pathway and the associated perisylvian regions can induce the interhemispheric transfer of language functions to right homolog regions. This study provides combined evidence of structural and functional brain reorganization of language networks after early stroke with strong implications for neurobiological models of language development.
- Diffusion tensor imaging
- Interhemispheric plasticity
- Language production
- Perinatal arterial ischemic stroke
ASJC Scopus subject areas