Correlations between Dual-Pathway White Matter Alterations and Language Impairment in Patients with Aphasia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Jie Zhang, Shuchang Zhong, Liang Zhou, Yamei Yu, Xufei Tan, Min Wu, Peng Sun, Wei Zhang, Juebao Li, Ruidong Cheng, Yanfei Wu, Yanmei Yu, Xiangming Ye*, Benyan Luo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

10 Citations (Web of Science)
130 Downloads (Pure)


While converging evidence suggests linguistic roles of white matter tracts, detailed associations between white matter alterations of dual pathways and language abilities remain unknown in aphasic patients. We aimed to verify language functions of dual-pathway tracts from specific domains and investigate the influence of moderators. PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and CENTRAL were searched for studies published between January 1, 1985 and March 17, 2019. A meta-analysis of 46 studies including 1353 aphasic patients was performed by pooling correlation coefficients between linguistic domains and diffusion metrics of dual-pathway tracts. Among these tracts, the fractional anisotropy (FA) value of the left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus predominated across most linguistic aspects, showing the strongest correlations with global severity, comprehension, naming and reading ability. The left uncinate fasciculus and inferior longitudinal fasciculus also showed significant FA - comprehension correlations. For syntactic processing, FA values of the left superior longitudinal fasciculus and arcuate fasciculus showed significant positive correlations. Meta-regression revealed no influence of etiology on FA - language correlations, while sex had a moderating effect on the FA - comprehension correlation of the arcuate fasciculus, and age influenced the FA - naming correlation in the superior longitudinal fasciculus. In conclusion, multifunctional characteristics of tracts were revealed in aphasic patients, including broad linguistic associations of the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and repetition and syntactic involvement of the arcuate fasciculus. Language associations of the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus were clarified regarding comprehension subdomains. The insignificant moderating effect of the etiology indicates damage of dual pathways is the common neural mechanism, while sex and age influence the correlation with comprehension and naming ability, respectively, in specific tracts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-418
Number of pages17
JournalNeuropsychology Review
Issue number3
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Aphasia
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Dual pathway
  • White matter

Cite this