The hidden face of hemispherectomy: Visuo-spatial and visuo-perceptive processing after left or right functional hemispherectomy in 40 children.
Source: Epilepsy Behav
Functional hemispherectomy results in good outcomes in cases of refractory epilepsy and constitutes a unique situation in which to study cerebral plasticity and the reorganization of lateralized functions of the brain, especially in cases of infancy or childhood surgery. Previous studies have highlighted the remarkable ability of the brain to recover language after left hemispherectomy. This leads to a reorganization of language networks toward right hemisphere, causing limitation in the development of visuo-spatial abilities, known as a crowding effect in the right hemisphere. Deficits in nonverbal functions have also been described as a more direct consequence of right hemipherectomy, but the results from case studies have sometimes been contradictory. We conducted a group study which may effectively compare patients with left and right hemispherectomy and address the effects of the age of seizure onset and surgery. We analyzed the general visuo-spatial and visuo-perceptive abilities, including face and emotional facial expression processing, in a group of 40 patients aged 7-16 years with left (n = 24) or right (n = 16) functional hemispherectomy. Although the groups did not differ, on average, in general visuo-spatial and visuo-perceptive skills, patients with right hemispherectomy were more impaired in the processing of faces and emotional facial expressions compared with patients with left hemispherectomy. This may reflect a specific deficit in the perceptual processing of faces after right hemispherectomy. Results are discussed in terms of limited plasticity of the left hemisphere for facial and configural processing.