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Language lateralisation and early right ear deafness: was Wernicke right?


The effects of early right ear deafness on lateralisation of auditory language functions are not fully known. A 36 year old right handed man, with a history of perinatal right ear deafness and undergoing evaluation for surgical treatment of seizures that began at age 10 years was studied. Language lateralisation testing by intracarotid sodium amobarbital injection showed receptive and expressive language functions to be strongly lateralised to the left hemisphere. Results with intracarotid sodium amobarbital injection further suggested that transmission of auditory input to the patient's left hemisphere was partially dependent on ipsilateral left ear pathways. Cortical language mapping through implanted subdural electrodes localised auditory language functions to traditional left posterior perisylvian language areas. These results suggest that early right ear deafness does not impede left hemisphere lateralisation and localisation of auditory language functions. Moreover, transmission of auditory information to the patient's left hemisphere seems to be accomplished, in part, by recruitment of ipsilateral left ear pathways.

  • language lateralisation
  • right ear deafness

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