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Language is a unique and essential function of human beings and is critical to quality of life. For patients with a brain tumor near putative language cortex, neurosurgeons may use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) presurgical language mapping to assess the risks of surgery-induced permanent language deficits against the potential benefits of maximal resection. Critical barriers to clinical deployment of presurgical fMRI are that

  1. The validity is contingent on the patient’s ability to perform precisely timed phonological and semantic tasks. However, in our center, up to 50% of patients assigned to fMRI have a language deficit that may affect task performance and invalidate the mapping.
  2. Expertise in administering language tasks is insufficient in many clinical settings.

To tackle these challenges, we have investigated and demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of task-free, e.g., resting-state and movie-watching, fMRI paradigms in mapping language areas in individual healthy subjects and neurosurgical patients.

Resting-state fMRI
Spatial maps of two group language components derived from resting-state fMRI. Red: frontal component; yellow: temporal component.
Movie-watching fMRI
Language response model (LRM) derived from a 7-min movie clip of “Parent Trap”. Overlay of the mean time course of six language response regions, and the first principal component (PC) based on a PCA analysis on the mean time courses. The first PC represented the main temporal profile of the language area response, and thus is defined as the LRM of the movie stimulus.

Department of Neurosurgery
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Hale Building for Transformative Medicine
60 Fenwood Road, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02115

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