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Language Testing During Awake Brain Surgery

Discover the importance and the process of language testing during awake brain surgery.

6,025 enrolled on this course

Rembrandt's Anatomic lesson by Dr Deijman

Language Testing During Awake Brain Surgery

6,025 enrolled on this course

  • 6 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn how to develop language tests for awake brain surgery

Language representation in the brain can be studied by testing language during awake brain surgery. In this course, you will get to know the importance of neurolinguistics and awake brain surgery by seeing the collaboration between surgical staff and neurolinguists before, during and after the operation.

You will also learn how to develop appropriate language tests for use during awake brain surgery and explore some of the latest developments in this field.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds The brain has been fascinating humans for a very long time, because it is the seed of our soul and our skills. Imagine one of the most devastating diseases, cancer, and a tumour is infiltrating your brain. The tumour can spread to areas that are crucial for language. And if you’re going to remove the tumour, you may cut out brain tissue that is important for language. A new technique as we use nowadays is awake brain surgery. It means that the patient is awake during surgery. When the surgeon approaches the language areas, we monitor the patient all the time by testing his language. [SPEAKING DUTCH] This is a soldier.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds This is a table. Language is a very complex cognitive function, and it requires knowledge about how language is represented in the brain. So that’s why it is very interesting. And it becomes more and more relevant, and it’s more and more acknowledged in the clinical field that this is the golden standard to remove brain tumours from the language areas. This is a free online course, and you will learn why language testing during awake brain surgery is very important. You will see what is happening in the OR. And you will learn about the steps behind developing these language tests. You will also be introduced to the latest developments in the field of neurotechnology and neurosurgery.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 seconds To all the people interested I would like to say, join the course and get involved in this innovative part of neuroscience.


  • Week 1

    Language representation in the brain

    • Let's get started!

      Let's start this course off together by getting to know our main educator, the clinical educators at the hospital and the topic in the center of this course - the brain!

    • Neuroanatomy of language

      Before we dig deeper into language mapping, let's get acquainted with the most crucial anatomical terms you will need throughout the course in the following steps.

    • Language and what can go wrong

      Now that you have warmed up with the anatomy of the brain, we will find out which areas are assumed to be responsible for language and what consequences a damage to those areas has.

    • Wrapping up Week 1

      It is now time to check how much you recall from this week's steps and look ahead to Week 2.

  • Week 2

    Brain tumours and awake surgery

    • Exploring the preoperative phase

      Let's have a look at what this week on the preoperative preparations will teach us and meet the neurosurgeon guiding you through it.

    • Assessing tumour types

      After a patient is admitted to the hospital, we will see now which steps he goes through next and which classifications for tumour diagnoses there are.

    • Eligibility for surgery

      Apart from the type of tumour, let us discuss which other criteria a patient has to meet to qualify for an awake brain surgery and if our patient meets them.

    • Making the decision

      Even if it is based on all the medical assessments and obtained results, the decision to operate or not is not always as straight forward as one might think. Let's explore the difficulty and solutions of this.

    • Wrapping up Week 2

      It is time to test what you have learned about preoperative assessment in Week 2 and look ahead to Week 3.

  • Week 3

    The procedure of awake surgery

    • The hours before the surgery

      Before we discuss the intraoperative procedure in detail, let us look at the last preparations and checklists for the patient and the surgical team.

    • The first asleep phase

      In the first phase, the patient is held asleep under anesthesia to position him for the awake phase. Here the anesthesiologist will talk us through these steps.

    • Intraoperative mapping and decision making

      In the following step, we get to watch the intraoperative mapping and the processes of deciding whether or not to resect, explained by the neurosurgeon.

    • The second asleep phase and its pitfalls

      Now that the mapping is over, the patient needs to be closed up and woken up safely. The anesthesiologist and neurophysiologist talk you through these procedures and their complications.

    • Wrapping up Week 3

      It's time to test what you have learned in the intraoperative Week 3 and to think beyond the tasks described so far.

  • Week 4

    The importance of tailor-made language tests

    • Clinical linguists in the OR

      After being introduced to the medical side of an awake brain surgery, let us get involved with clinical linguistics now.

    • The complex language map in the brain

      Let us build on what we have already learned about language areas in the brain by adding the knowledge how different areas are involved in different subtasks of language.

    • Spontaneous speech testing

      In our every day conversations, we do not perform language tasks, but use spontaneous speech. Why would we not just use that for language mapping?

    • Developing tailor-made language tests

      Now that you know why using spontaneous speech as measure of language skills is not enough, let us get behind the necessary steps of developing a useful language test.

    • Wrapping up Week 4 with designing our own tests

      Now it is time for you to put words into action. Start developing your own little test for LTABS with the following instructions.

  • Week 5

    Language testing during awake brain surgery

    • The variety of tests

      Find out about the variety of language tests to choose from in the following step.

    • How to select tests

      Applying every possible test on a single patient would not be reasonable. Let us find out how a selection of tests is made per patient.

    • Evaluating the outcome

      If we want to evaluate whether it was a successful surgery, we assess the post-operative state of the patient. Here we have a look at how the patient is doing shortly after and what conclusion to draw from this.

    • Applying our tests

      Let's go back to the small test you developed last week. This week, we will take it one step further by piloting it.

  • Week 6

    Latest developments

    • Wrapping up the test developments

      Last week, you tried out your test as a pilot to investigate its validity and had your peers evaluate the results with you. We will look at this last stage of test development once more.

    • The alternative to intraoperative mapping

      We will get to know now how mapping can be done with a preoperative procedure, called nTMS, and how we can profit from it.

    • Beyond language mapping

      You have been introduced to the language mapping procedures at the University Medical Centre Groningen. However, it is good to widen one's horizon to learning about how other centres approach the procedure.

    • Wrapping up our course

      Let us check one last time how much we remember from this Week's steps, before we leave you with some additional information concerning LTABS courses and warm fare-well.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the complexity of the language representation in the brain
  • Explain the necessity of awake brain surgery
  • Describe the procedure including direct electrical stimulation (DES)
  • Identify the prerequisites of a good language test
  • Describe the complexity of developing a language test battery for LTABS
  • Evaluate the developments of the field

Who is the course for?

The course has been created for healthcare professionals involved in the procedure of awake surgery, including neurosurgeons and neurosurgical teams but also neurolinguists and clinical linguists who wish to start developing language tests.

Equally, it will be relevant for anyone involved in the procedure before, during and after awake brain surgery including neuro-anaesthesiologists, neuropsychologists, nursing staff and neurologists.

It also delivers useful information for patients with brain tumours and their proxies, to inform them about the surgical procedure they are about to undergo as well as anyone else intrigued by the topic.

Who will you learn with?

I am Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Groningen. My research interests are in anesthesiology-related pharmacology and neuroscience.

Professor in Neurolinguistics
Course developer

I am a MOOC educator at the University of Groningen and a PhD student in an international doctorate in neurolinguistics.

Wencke Veenstra is a lecturer at the European Master of Clinical Linguistics and works as a neuropsychologist at the University Medical Center, dept. Neurosurgery and Pediatric Rehabilitation.

I am a neurosurgeon at the University Medical Center Groningen. My main area of expertise is brain tumor surgery.

Dr. Gea Drost works as a neurologist and clinical neurophysiologist at the UMCG. She has been responsible for intraoperative neurophysiology in neurosurgery in the last four years.

Who developed the course?

University of Groningen

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.

University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

UMCG is building the future of health through its focus on complex patient care, research, education and training.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 4 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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