Motor Laterality as an Indicator of Speech Laterality

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Abstract

Objective: The determination of speech laterality, especially where it is anomalous, is both a theoretical issue and a practical problem for brain surgery. Handedness is commonly thought to be related to speech representation, but exactly how is not clearly understood. This investigation analyzed handedness by preference rating and performance on a reliable task of motor laterality in 34 patients undergoing a Wada test, to see if they could provide an indicator of speech laterality. Method: Hand usage preference ratings divided patients into left, right, and mixed in preference. Between-hand differences in movement time on a pegboard task determined motor laterality. Results were correlated (χ2) with speech representation as determined by a standard Wada test. Results: It was found that patients whose between-hand difference in speed on the motor task was small or inconsistent were the ones whose Wada test speech representation was likely to be ambiguous or anomalous, whereas all those with a consistently large between-hand difference showed clear unilateral speech representation in the hemisphere controlling the better hand (χ2 = 10.45, df = 1, p < .01, η2 = 0.55) This relationship prevailed across hand preference and level of skill in the hands itself. Conclusion: We propose that motor and speech laterality are related where they both involve a central control of motor output sequencing and that a measure of that aspect of the former will indicate the likely representation of the latter. A between-hand measure of motor laterality based on such a measure may indicate the possibility of anomalous speech representation.

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