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The Development of Pragmatic Skills in Children after Hemispherotomy: Contribution from Left and Right Hemispheres

Abstract : PURPOSE: Hemispherotomy (H) is the standard treatment used to cure hemispheric epileptic syndromes in childhood. The postoperative linguistic profile involves hemispheric specialization processes and developmental cognitive plasticity. This research concerns pragmatic aspects of language as a tool for communication which involves both linguistic and extralinguistic communication in context. Our aim was to analyze whether any correlation exists with age at surgery and side of surgery on pragmatic skills following H. METHOD: Forty children who underwent H (23 females, 16 right H) were evaluated at a mean age of 12.8 years (±2.6) with two receptive tasks (oral comprehension and syntactic judgment), the Children's Communication Checklist (CCC) rating scale, and the Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) questionnaire in order to evaluate the role of executive functions on pragmatic skills. Children operated on before the age of 18 months were considered the "early" group (5 right H and 9 left H), while those operated on later were called the "late" group (11 right H and 15 left H). KEY FINDINGS: The whole group had significant deficits in all three measures. We demonstrated a statistically significant crossed interaction between the side of H and the age at H with pragmatic language impairments (F(1,36)=17.48; p=.0002) and disorders in executive function (F(1,36)=5.80; p=.021) in left early H and in right late H patients. These findings are consistent with the previous studies of pragmatic language impairments concerning adolescents and adults with right hemisphere damage and emphasize the contribution of structural language in the early stage of verbal communication. SIGNIFICANCE: These results emphasize for the first time that hemispherotomized children have pragmatic language impairments that are independent of receptive language. Our findings are congruent with the recent theory on pragmatic language development in childhood with evidence of a participation of the left hemisphere at the early age followed by right hemispheric specialization and involvement of executive functions, independently of receptive language.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 28, 2016 - 3:42:22 PM
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Jessica Save-Pédebos, Charlotte Pinabiaux, Georg Dorfmuller, Sarah Ferrand Sorbets, Olivier Delalande, et al.. The Development of Pragmatic Skills in Children after Hemispherotomy: Contribution from Left and Right Hemispheres. Epilepsy & Behavior, [San Diego CA]: Elsevier B.V., 2016, 55, pp.139--145. ⟨10.1016/j.yebeh.2015.12.013⟩. ⟨hal-01423137⟩



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