ABSTRACT In recent decades, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has proven to be more effective than the Wada test in the evaluation of language lateralization in special populations such as epileptic patients and children. However, fMRI requires that subjects remain motionless during data acquisition, making the assessment of receptive and expressive language difficult in young children and population with special needs. Near-Infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a non- invasive technique that has proven to be more tolerant to motion artifacts. The aim of the present study was to investigate the use of NIRS to assess receptive language patterns using a story listening paradigm. Four native French-speakers listened to stories read aloud by a bilingual speaker in both French and Arabic. To determine if the signal recorded was affected by episodic memory processes, a familiar story and an unknown story were presented. Results showed that listening to stories in French elicited a significantly higher left lateralized response than listening to stories in Arabic, independently of the familiarity of the story. These results confirm that NIRS is a useful non-invasive technique to assess receptive language in adults and can be used to investigate language lateralization among children and epileptic patients slated for epilepsy surgery.
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