What is the role of the uncinate fasciculus? Surgical removal and proper name retrieval

Costanza Papagno, Christiano Miracapillo, Alessandra Casarotti, Leonor J. Romero Lauro, Antonella Castellano, Andrea Falini, Giuseppe Casaceli, Enrica Fava, Lorenzo Bello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The functional role of the uncinate fasciculus is still a matter of debate. We examined 44 patients submitted to awake surgery for removal of a left frontal or temporal glioma. In 18 patients, the removal included the uncinate fasciculus. We compared patients with or without removal on a series of neuropsychological tasks, performed at different time intervals: pre-surgery, in the first week after surgery and 3 months after surgery. Functional magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging, fibre-tracking techniques were performed before surgery. At the last examination, patients with uncinate removal were significantly impaired in naming of famous faces and objects as compared with patients without removal. We further divided patients according to the site of the tumour (either frontal or temporal). At the follow-up, patients with a temporal glioma who underwent uncinate removal had the worst loss of performance in famous face naming. In addition, on the same task, the group with a frontal glioma that underwent resection of the frontal part of the uncinate performed significantly worse than the group with a frontal glioma but without uncinate removal. In conclusion, the resection of the uncinate fasciculus, in its frontal or temporal part, has long-lasting consequences for famous face naming. We suggest that this fibre tract is part of a circuitry involved in the retrieval of word form for proper names. Retrieval of conceptual knowledge was intact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • awake surgery
  • famous face naming
  • glioma
  • uncinate fasciculus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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