According to a large neuropsychological and neuroimaging literature, the bilateral anterior temporal lobe (ATL) is a core region for semantic processing. It seems therefore surprising that semantic memory appears to be preserved in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) patients with unilateral ATL resection. However, recent work suggests that the bilateral semantic system is relatively robust against unilateral damage and semantic impairments under these circumstances only become apparent with low frequency specific concepts. In addition, neuroimaging studies have shown that the function of the left and right ATLs differ and therefore left or right ATL resection should lead to a different pattern of impairment. The current study investigated hemispheric differences in the bilateral semantic system by comparing left and right resected TLE patients during verbal semantic processing of low frequency concepts. Picture naming and semantic comprehension tasks with varying word frequencies were included to investigate the pattern of impairment. Left but not right TLE patients showed impaired semantic processing, which was particularly apparent on low frequency items. This indicates that, for verbal information, the bilateral semantic system is more sensitive to damage in the left compared to the right ATL, which is in line with theories that attribute a more prominent role to the left ATL due to connections with pre-semantic verbal regions.
|Early online date||23 Apr 2018|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2018|
- semantic memory
- temporal lobes