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Knecht, S., Drager, B., Floel, A., Lohmann, H., Breitenstein, C., Deppe, M., Henningsen, H., & Ringelstein, E. B. (2001). Behavioural relevance of atypical language lateralization in healthy subjects. Brain, 124, 1657-1665.

In most humans, language is lateralized to the left side of the brain. It has been speculated that this hemispheric specialization is a prerequisite for the full realization of linguistic potential. Using standardized questionnaires and performance measures, we attempted to determine if there are behavioural correlates of atypical, i.e. right-hemispheric and bilateral, language lateralization. The side and degree of language lateralization were determined by measuring the hemispheric perfusion differences by functional transcranial Doppler ultrasonography during a word generation task in healthy volunteers. Subjects with left (n = 264), bilateral (n = 31) or right (n = 31) hemisphere language representation did not differ significantly with respect to mastery of foreign languages, academic achievement, artistic talents, verbal fluency or (as assessed in a representative subgroup) in intelligence or speed of linguistic processing. These findings suggest that atypical hemispheric specialization for language, i.e. right- hemisphere or bilateral specialization, is not associated with major impairments of linguistic faculties in otherwise healthy subjects.


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