Functional MRI of language lateralization during development in children

Scott K. Holland, Jennifer Vannest, Marc Mecoli, Lisa M. Jacola, Jan Mendelt Tillema, Prasanna R. Karunanayaka, Vincent J. Schmithorst, Weihong Yuan, Elena Plante, Anna W. Byars

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


Changes in the distribution of language function in the brain have been documented from infancy through adulthood. Even macroscopic measures of language lateralization reflect a dynamic process of language development. In this review, we summarize a series of functional MRI studies of language skills in children ages of five to 18 years, both typically-developing children and children with brain injuries or neurological disorders that occur at different developmental stages with different degrees of severity. These studies used a battery of fMRI-compatible language tasks designed to tap sentential and lexical language skills that develop early and later in childhood. In typically-developing children, lateralization changes with age are associated with language skills that have a protracted period of development, reflecting the developmental process of skill acquisition rather than general maturation of the brain. Normative data, across the developmental period, acts as a reference for disentangling developmental patterns in brain activation from changes due to developmental or acquired abnormalities. This review emphasizes the importance of considering age and child development in neuroimaging studies of language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-551
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Brain development
  • Child language
  • Epilepsy
  • Language development
  • Pediatric
  • Perinatal stroke
  • Speech
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Verb generation
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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