Since 2011, we have funded over $200,000 in research to better understand the functional implications of hemispherectomy. Soon, we will broaden our research focus to address other resective and disconnective epilepsy surgeries, especially after the launch of our Global Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Registry.
The following discoveries were made by scientists where we have either initiated, funded, and/or assisted with participant recruitment and/or travel costs for their studies:
Effectiveness of Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Training After Hemispherectomy
Dr. Andrew Gordon, Ph.D., at Teachers College, Columbia University investigated the effectiveness of Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Training (HABIT) after hemispherectomy. This three-year study has closed and results are awaiting publication. Learn more here: Efficacy of Hand-Arm Bimanual Training After Hemispherectomy
Reading is of particular importance to us, because children with epilepsy are at substantial risk of reading poorly. Only 42% of children after hemispherectomy, for example, can read. We know that reading in healthy children depends on well-described “building blocks” such as the ability to manipulate phonemes and match them to written letters in a process known as phonological awareness, vocabulary and verbal memory. Because all these skills are mostly in the left hemisphere, our research to date has targeted acquisition of reading skills after left hemispherectomy.
Joanna Christodolou, PhD, of the MGH Institute of Health Professions, Stella de Bode, PhD, and Tami Katzir, PhD, of the University of Haifa, discovered that despite having the same pre-surgical condition (left hemisphere stroke) and same surgery (left hemispherectomy), children after these procedures had different skills when reading. Because each child have different individual strengths and weaknesses, the authors of this study concluded that each child after hemispherectomy should have flexible literacy instruction based on standardized assessments that analyze individual strengths and are used to generate intervention strategies. A summary of this study is here: Comparing Developmental Dyslexia to Left Hemispherectomy
In another study, Mari Chanturidze, PhD, of the University of Oldenburg, Dr. Gary Mathern of the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanley Dubinsky, PhD, of the University of South Carolina, and Stella de Bode, PhD, investigated what happens when the left hemisphere is resected very early in life and concluded that the isolated right hemisphere uses the same reading “building blocks” as its left counterpart. They did, however, note that there was variability even among children with similar underlying conditions, further supporting the need for flexible literacy instruction and standardized assessments that analyze individual strengths in order to generate intervention strategies. A summary of this study is here: Reading and Phonological Processing After Left Hemispherectomy
Language is primarily a function of the left side of the brain. This network typically comprised inferior frontal gyrus, superior temporal sulcus, and premotor regions. In this study, Anna Ivanova and Lucina Uddin, PhD, of the University of Miami, Eran Zaidel, PhD, Dr. Noriko Salamon, and Susan Bookheimer, PhD, of the University of California at Los Angeles, and Stella de Bode, PhD, investigated the pattern of functional connectivity within language networks in the right hemisphere after the left hemisphere has been removed. They found that the functional connectivity is at least partially preserved. A summary of this study is here: Language Circuits After Left Hemispherectomy
Christian Gaser, PhD of the University of Jena in Germany studies changes in the structure of the brain. He has discovered that after hemispherectomy, there is both atrophy of the remaining hemisphere as well as increase in size of gray and white matter in some areas. This study is not published. You can read more here: Structural Changes Following Hemispherectomy