Functional MRI and Epilepsy

We want to develop a consistent and reliable procedure for testing language function using functional MRI, which should be much easier to carry out than the WADA test. The current technique involves thinking of words beginning with a particular letter (called a word generation task) whilst carrying out the functional MRI scan. Periods of activity (whilst you are carrying out the task) are alternated with periods of rest, all the way through the scan. Using these functional MRI images, the level of blood flow in the brain can be compared between these ‘active’ and ‘rest’ periods. The areas of the brain controlling the task being carried out have higher blood flow and these regions are highlighted. 

The technique that we are using has been tested on healthy volunteers. It is now being used on epilepsy surgery patients in whom we are not sure which side of the brain controls language function. At this stage, patients will still undergo a WADA test and results from the functional MRI scanning will be compared to the outcome of the WADA test.

We will be extending this work to develop new functional MRI tests that will improve how well we can pinpoint language function. We would like to eventually use functional MRI to test memory function (which is related to language function) in epilepsy patients.


Peel SA, Darekar AA, Hoffmann SMA, Abbott P, Smith M.
Using fMRI with an auditory prompt to aid pre-surgical planning in patients with neurological lesions.

IPEM One-day meeting, Advanced neurological MR: Clinical applications update, London, 2008.

Darekar AA, Peel SA, Kapur N, Hoffmann SMA, Gawne-Cain M.
Initial experience of using fMRI to test language lateralisation in epilepsy Patients. UK Radiological Congress, Manchester, 2005.

Darekar AA, Hoffmann SMA, Gawne-Cain M.
Validation of a proprietary functional MRI analysis method.
IPEM Annual scientific meeting, Bath, 2003.