Introduction: Brain tumours frequently cause language impairments and are also likely to co-occur with localised abnormal slow-wave brain activity. However, it is unclear whether this applies specifically to low-grade brain tumours. We investigate slow-wave activity in resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) in low-grade glioma and meningioma patients, and its relation to pre- and postoperative language functioning.
Method: Patients with a glioma (N = 15) infiltrating the language-dominant hemisphere and patients with a meningioma (N = 10) with mass effect on this hemisphere underwent extensive language testing before and 1 year after surgery. EEG was registered preoperatively, postoperatively (glioma patients only), and once in healthy individuals. Slow-wave activity in delta- and theta- frequency bands was evaluated visually and quantitatively by spectral power at three levels over the scalp: the whole brain, the affected hemisphere, and the affected region.
Results: Glioma patients had increased delta activity (affected area) and increased theta activity (all levels) before and after surgery. In these patients, increased preoperative theta activity was related to the presence of language impairment, especially to poor word retrieval and grammatical performance. Preoperative slow-wave activity was also related to postoperative language outcomes. Meningioma patients showed no significant increase in EEG slow-wave activity compared to healthy individuals, but they presented with word retrieval, grammatical, and writing problems preoperatively, as well as with writing impairments postoperatively.
Discussion: Although the brain-tumour pathology in low-grade gliomas and meningiomas has a different effect on resting-state brain activity, patients with low-grade gliomas and meningiomas both suffer from language impairments. Increased theta activity in glioma patients can be considered as a language-impairment marker, with prognostic value for language outcome after surgery.