Is a lone right hemisphere enough? Neurolinguistic architecture in a case with a very early left hemispherectomy

Laura Danelli, Giuseppe Cossu, Manuela Berlingeri, Gabriella Bottini, Maurizio Sberna, Eraldo Paulesu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the linguistic profile and neurolinguistic organization of a 14-year-old adolescent (EB) who underwent a left hemispherectomy at the age of 2.5 years. After initial aphasia, his language skills recovered within 2 years, with the exception of some word finding problems. Over the years, the neuropsychological assessments showed that EB's language was near-to-normal, with the exception of lexical competence, which lagged slightly behind for both auditory and written language. Moreover, EB's accuracy and speed in both reading and writing words and non-words were within the normal range, whereas difficulties emerged in reading loan words and in tasks with homophones. EB's functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) patterns for several linguistic and metalinguistic tasks were similar to those observed in the dominant hemisphere of controls, suggesting that his language network conforms to a left-like linguistic neural blueprint. However, a stronger frontal recruitment suggests that linguistic tasks are more demanding for him. Finally, no specific reading activation was found in EB's occipitotemporal region, a finding consistent with the surface dyslexia-like behavioral pattern of the patient. While a lone right hemisphere may not be sufficient to guarantee full blown linguistic competences after early hemispherectomy, EB's behavioral and fMRI patterns suggest that his lone right hemisphere followed a left-like blueprint of the linguistic network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-231
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • fMRI
  • Language
  • Left hemispherectomy
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Reading
  • Visual word form area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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