Brain Morphology in Children With Specific Language Impairment The planum temporale and pars triangularis have been found to be larger in the left hemisphere than the right in individuals with normal language skills. Brain morphology studies of individuals with developmental language disorders report reversed asymmetry or symmetry of the planum, although the bulk of this research has been ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1997
Brain Morphology in Children With Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laurie M. Gauger
    University of Florida Gainesville
  • Linda J. Lombardino
    University of Florida Gainesville
  • Christiana M. Leonard, PhD
    University of Florida Gainesville
    Department of Neuroscience, P.O. Box 100244, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • Currently affiliated with Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany
    Currently affiliated with Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1997
Brain Morphology in Children With Specific Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1272-1284. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1272
History: Received June 11, 1996 , Accepted April 15, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1997, Vol. 40, 1272-1284. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1272
History: Received June 11, 1996; Accepted April 15, 1997

The planum temporale and pars triangularis have been found to be larger in the left hemisphere than the right in individuals with normal language skills. Brain morphology studies of individuals with developmental language disorders report reversed asymmetry or symmetry of the planum, although the bulk of this research has been completed on adults with dyslexia. Pars triangularis has not been studied in the developmental language impaired population. In this study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used for quantitative comparisons of the planum temporale (Wernicke’s area) and pars triangularis (Broca’s area) in children with specific language impairment (SLI) and children with normal language skills. The subjects were 11 children with SLI and 19 age- and sex-matched controls between 5.6 and 13.0 years old. Each subject received a neurolinguistic battery of tests and a high resolution volumetric MRI scan. Major results were that (a) pars triangularis was significantly smaller in the left hemisphere of children with SLI, and (b) children with SLI were more likely to have rightward asymmetry of language structures. Furthermore, anomalous morphology in these language areas correlated with depressed language ability. These findings support the hypothesis that language impairment is a consequence of an underlying neurobiological defect in areas of the brain known to subserve language.

Acknowledgments
This study was a doctoral dissertation conducted by the first author in the Department of Communication Processes and Disorders, University of Florida, and was supported in part by Grant No. 12 FY93-0551 awarded to C. M. Leonard and L. J. Lombardino by the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.
The authors wish to express their appreciation to Sam Browd for his assistance in data collection and brain measurements, to Lisa Rowe for her assistance with statistical procedures and brain measurements, to Chrissy Meyer and Mary Ellen Bentham for their assistance in acquiring the MRI scans, to Frank Agee for his diagnostic assessment of the children’s MRI scans, and particularly to all of the children and their parents who participated in our study. Finally, we wish to thank Susan Weismer and Elena Plante for their invaluable comments and editorial suggestions.
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