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Uncovering right hemispheric language functions: a project combining TMS and EEG

English title Uncovering right hemispheric language functions: a project combining TMS and EEG
Applicant Landis Theodor
Number 118315
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Service de Neurologie Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG)
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.01.2008 - 31.12.2010
Approved amount 474'316.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Neurology, Psychiatry

Keywords (6)

cerebral dominance; interhemispheric interactions; state-dependency; human; EEG; TMS

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
The two cerebral hemispheres are well known to be specialized in complementary functions such as language versus visuo-spatial skills. Yet, the neuronal basis of hemispheric dominance remains a mater of debate. Possible accounts range from static models based on structural differences between the two hemispheres to dynamic models in which hemispheric specialization is not absolute, and each hemisphere can process information usually treated by its counterpart (e.g. language functions within the right hemisphere), at least under specific conditions. Based on previous findings, we propose a dynamic model in which hemispheric dominance (i) is shaped through inhibition of the non-dominant by the dominant hemisphere via commissural fibers, and (ii) undergoes physiological fluctuations within individuals. With the present project, we aim to further test this model in a series of experiments that use non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation, TMS) alone or in combination with modern electrical brain imaging techniques (based on electroencephalography, EEG). We intend to focus on left and right hemispheric language function (in particular reading comprehension), their fluctuation over time and their regulation through interhemispheric interaction. Working hypotheses that will be tested include (i) that right hemispheric language functions can be temporarily uncovered in healthy participants by transiently interfering with the left hemisphere through TMS (disinhibition of the right hemisphere), and (ii) that this is state-dependent, indicating dynamic cerebral dominance and fluctuations of interhemispheric inhibition.We believe that better understanding right hemispheric language functions, hemispheric specialization and its dynamics is of interest not only to provide information on language organization, but also on the fundamental principles of neural plasticity, and the potential of the brain to reorganize.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
65096 Hemispheric specialization and state-dependency: en evoked poten-tial mapping study 01.10.2001 Project funding (Div. I-III)
121334 Establishing a pluridisciplinary brain and behavior laboratory at the University of Geneva 01.10.2008 R'EQUIP
132967 Consciousness and the two brains 01.02.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)