Naming in Bilingual Youth With Epilepsy

Melanie Rose Somekh, Fordham University


Neuropsychological evaluation, including assessment of naming, is part of the multidisciplinary pre-surgical planning process for patients with epilepsy that aids in the lateralization and localization of seizure onset. Impaired time-based auditory naming is associated with dominant, typically left, hemisphere seizure onset among monolingual pediatric patients. While impaired naming is also associated with dominant hemisphere seizure onset among monolingual adults, this relationship has not been supported among bilingual adults. Further, healthy bilingual youth and adults demonstrate weaker naming in each of their languages relative to monolingual counterparts. Naming among bilingual pediatric patients with epilepsy and its relationship with the lateralization of seizure onset has yet to be explored. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by examining data from a multisite study of pediatric epilepsy patients who underwent neuropsychological assessment as part of pre-surgical evaluations. The sample included 128 monolingual and 40 bilingual patients with epilepsy, a subset of whom had unilateral seizure onset. All patients completed the Children’s Auditory and Visual Naming Test. Results indicated that bilingual patients had weaker auditory and visual naming than their monolingual counterparts. Among the bilingual patients, those who started learning English at a younger age had stronger auditory naming. Among patients with unilateral seizure onset, time-based auditory naming was weaker among those with left hemisphere seizure onset relative to right hemisphere seizure onset, irrespective of bilingual or monolingual status. Among monolingual patients, impaired time-based auditory naming (i.e., >1.5 S.D. below the normative mean) was predictive of left hemisphere seizure onset. Among bilingual patients, most had naming within the impaired range and this was not predictive of the hemisphere of seizure onset. Overall, findings indicate an impact of bilingual status on naming among bilingual youth with epilepsy. Clinically, impaired naming among bilingual youth with epilepsy should be interpreted carefully and does not necessarily reflect left hemisphere seizure onset. Further work is needed in larger samples to establish clinically meaningful thresholds of naming impairment for bilingual youth with epilepsy.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Developmental psychology|Neurosciences

Recommended Citation

Somekh, Melanie Rose, "Naming in Bilingual Youth With Epilepsy" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30631745.