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Cereb Cortex. 2001 Sep;11(9):868-77.

Structural asymmetries in the human brain: a voxel-based statistical analysis of 142 MRI scans.

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  • 1Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The use of computational approaches in the analysis of high resolution magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the human brain provides a powerful tool for in vivo studies of brain anatomy. Here, we report results obtained with a voxel-wise statistical analysis of hemispheric asymmetries in regional 'amounts' of gray matter, based on MRI scans obtained in 142 healthy young adults. Firstly, the voxel-wise analysis detected the well-known frontal (right > left) and occipital (left > right) petalias. Secondly, our analysis confirmed the presence of left-greater-than-right asymmetries in several posterior language areas, including the planum temporale and the angular gyrus; no significant asymmetry was detected in the anterior language regions. We also found previously described asymmetries in the cingulate sulcus (right > left) and the caudate nucleus (right > left). Finally, in some brain regions we observed highly significant asymmetries that were not reported before, such as in the anterior insular cortex (right > left). The above asymmetries were observed in men and women. Our results thus provide confirmation of the known structural asymmetries in the human brain as well as new findings that may stimulate further research of hemispheric specialization.

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