Early brain injury alters both structural and functional connectivity between the cerebral hemispheres. Despite increasing knowledge on the individual hemispheric contributions to recovery from such injury, we know very little about how their interactions affect this process. In the present study, we related interhemispheric structural and functional connectivity to receptive language outcome following early left hemisphere stroke. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study 14 people with neonatal brain injury, and 25 age-matched controls during passive story comprehension. With respect to structural connectivity, we found that increased volume of the corpus callosum predicted good receptive language outcome, but that this is not specific to people with injury. In contrast, we found that increased posterior superior temporal gyrus interhemispheric functional connectivity during story comprehension predicted better receptive language performance in people with early brain injury, but worse performance in typical controls. This suggests that interhemispheric functional connectivity is one potential compensatory mechanism following early injury. Further, this pattern of results suggests refinement of the prevailing notion that better language outcome following early left hemisphere injury relies on the contribution of the contralesional hemisphere (i.e., the "right-hemisphere-take-over" theory). This pattern of results was also regionally specific; connectivity of the angular gyrus predicted poorer performance in both groups, independent of brain injury. These results present a complex picture of recovery, and in some cases, such recovery relies on increased cooperation between the injured hemisphere and homologous regions in the contralesional hemisphere, but in other cases, the opposite appears to hold.
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