A New Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Localizer for Preoperative Language Mapping Using a Sentence Completion Task: Validity, Choice of Baseline Condition, and Test–Retest Reliability
To avoid post-neurosurgical language deficits, intraoperative mapping of the language function in the brain can be complemented with preoperative mapping with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The validity of an fMRI “language localizer” paradigm crucially depends on the choice of an optimal language task and baseline condition. This study presents a new fMRI “language localizer” in Russian using overt sentence completion, a task that comprehensively engages the language function by involving both production and comprehension at the word and sentence level. The paradigm was validated in 18 neurologically healthy volunteers who participated in two scanning sessions, for estimating test–retest reliability. For the first time, two baseline conditions for the sentence completion task were compared. At the group level, the paradigm significantly activated both anterior and posterior language-related regions. Individual-level analysis showed that activation was elicited most consistently in the inferior frontal regions, followed by posterior temporal regions and the angular gyrus. Test–retest reliability of activation location, as measured by Dice coefficients, was moderate and thus comparable to previous studies. Test–retest reliability was higher in the frontal than temporo-parietal region and with the most liberal statistical thresholding compared to two more conservative thresholding methods. Lateralization indices were expectedly left-hemispheric, with greater lateralization in the frontal than temporo-parietal region, and showed moderate test-retest reliability. Finally, the pseudoword baseline elicited more extensive and more reliable activation, although the syllable baseline appears more feasible for future clinical use. Overall, the study demonstrated the validity and reliability of the sentence completion task for mapping the language function in the brain. The paradigm needs further validation in a clinical sample of neurosurgical patients. Additionally, the study contributes to general evidence on test–retest reliability of fMRI.