In the last decades the progress of neurosciences extended the neurobiological bases of language. However the role of the right hemisphere (RH) remains controversial. In epilepsy, considered a model of study of cognitive networks, language studies have focused on left hemisphere processing. Communication abilities, in which right hemisphere’s processing is required, have remained unexplored. The purpose of this study was to investigate communication abilities in patients with right temporal lobe epilepsy (RTLE) by comparing their performance to that of patients with left TLE (LTLE).
We studied 117 pharmacoresistant TLE patients: 52 with RTLE and 65 with LTLE. Subjects underwent a comprehensive battery of language and communication assessment. We analyzed epilepsy clinical and general neuropsychological data.
The results showed that patients epilepsy located in RH had significantly lower performance compared to the left group in conversational (X2 28,3 RR 3,7 p<,001) and narrative discourse (X2 20,3 RR 3,5 p<,001), in emotional prosody (X2 15,03 RR 2,2 p<,001) and in pragmatic skills such as interpretation of figurative (X2 19,3 RR 3 p<,001) and indirect language (X2 17,7 RR 2,8 p<,001) and social situations (X2 14,8 RR 5,5 p<,001).
Right anterior temporal structures would have a direct role in prosody processing, and a core contribution in discourse and pragmatic processing as a link between semantic, language and social processing to build a coherent meaning.