Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Interictal language functions in temporal lobe epilepsy
  1. L Bartha,
  2. T Benke,
  3. G Bauer,
  4. E Trinka
  1. Clinical Department of Neurology, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstraße 35, A–6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Lisa Bartha
 Innsbruck Medical University, Clinical Department of Neurology, Anichstraße 35, A–6020 Innsbruck, Austria;


Objective: To evaluate interictal language functions in patients with medically intractable left and right sided mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).

Methods: Spontaneous speech, language comprehension, confrontation naming, repetition, reading, writing, and word fluency were examined in 12 patients with left sided TLE and 11 patients with right sided TLE.

Results: Four patients out of 23 displayed language deficits in more than one language domain. Three further patients exhibited isolated language deficits. Linguistic deficits were observed in both left TLE and right TLE. In quantitative analyses left and right TLE only differed in spontaneous speech (p = 0.02); no difference was found in other language functions, laterality quotient of Wada test, or overall IQ. Qualitative error analysis of object naming, however, showed typical errors associated only with left TLE. Patients with linguistic deficits were older at testing compared to patients without linguistic deficits (p = 0.003), whereas other factors including side of TLE, handedness, educational level, age at epilepsy onset, and duration of epilepsy did not differ between groups.

Conclusions: Possible explanations for these findings include neuronal cell loss and deafferentiation in cortical areas, and disruption of the basal temporal language area pathways. Our study suggests that some patients with chronic mesial TLE exhibit linguistic deficits when specifically tested, and underlines the need to routinely investigate linguistic functions in TLE.

  • AAT, Aachener Aphasie Test
  • IBT, Innsbrucker Benenntest
  • MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
  • TLE, temporal lobe epilepsy
  • interictal language
  • temporal lobe epilepsy
  • word finding difficulties

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: none declared