Affected functional networks associated with sentence production in classic galactosemia

I. Timmers, J. van den Hurk, P.A.M. Hofman, L.J.I. Zimmermann, K. Uludag, B.M. Jansma, M.E. Rubio-Gozalbo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Downloads (Pure)


Patients with the inherited metabolic disorder classic galactosemia have language production impairments in several planning stages. Here, we assessed potential deviations in recruitment and connectivity across brain areas responsible for language production that may explain these deficits. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study neural activity and connectivity while participants carried out a language production task. This study included 13 adolescent patients and 13 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. Participants passively watched or actively described an animated visual scene using two conditions, varying in syntactic complexity (single words versus a sentence). Results showed that patients recruited additional and more extensive brain regions during sentence production. Both groups showed modulations with syntactic complexity in left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), a region associated with syntactic planning, and in right insula. In addition, patients showed a modulation with syntax in left superior temporal gyrus (STG), whereas the controls did not. Further, patients showed increased activity in right STG and right supplementary motor area (SMA). The functional connectivity data showed similar patterns, with more extensive connectivity with frontal and motor regions, and restricted and weaker connectivity with superior temporal regions. Patients also showed higher baseline cerebral blood flow (CBF) in right IFG and trends towards higher CBF in bilateral STG, SMA and the insula. Taken together, the data demonstrate that language abnormalities in classic galactosemia are associated with specific changes within the language network. These changes point towards impairments related to both syntactic planning and speech motor planning in these patients. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Early online date13 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2015


  • Classic galactosemia
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Functional connectivity
  • Language production
  • Syntactic encoding
  • FMRI

Cite this