Cerebellar induced differential polyglot aphasia: A neurolinguistic and fMRI study

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Abstract

Research has shown that linguistic functions in the bilingual brain are subserved by similar neural circuits as in monolinguals, but with extra-activity associated with cognitive and attentional control. Although a role for the right cerebellum in multilingual language processing has recently been acknowledged, a potential role of the left cerebellum remains largely unexplored.

This paper reports the clinical and fMRI findings in a strongly right-handed (late) multilingual patient who developed differential polyglot aphasia, ataxic dysarthria and a selective decrease in executive function due to an ischemic stroke in the left cerebellum. fMRI revealed that lexical-semantic retrieval in the unaffected L1 was predominantly associated with activations in the left cortical areas (left prefrontal area and left postcentral gyrus), while naming in two affected non-native languages recruited a significantly larger bilateral functional network, including the cerebellum. It is hypothesized that the left cerebellar insult resulted in decreased right prefrontal hemisphere functioning due to a loss of cerebellar impulses through the cerebello-cerebral pathways.

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