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Cereb Cortex. 2009 Feb;19(2):414-23. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn097. Epub 2008 Jun 17.

Structural asymmetries in the infant language and sensori-motor networks.

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CEA, UNAF, CEA/DSV/I2BM/Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, 91403 Orsay, France.


Both language capacity and strongly lateralized hand preference are among the most intriguing particularities of the human species. They are associated in the adult brain with functional and anatomical hemispheric asymmetries in the speech perception-production network and in the sensori-motor system. Only studies in early life can help us to understand how such asymmetries arise during brain development, and to which point structural left-right differences are the source or the consequence of functional lateralization. In this study, we aimed to provide new in vivo structural markers of hemispheric asymmetries in infants from 1 to 4 months of age, with diffusion tensor imaging. We used 3 complementary analysis methods based on local diffusion indices and spatial localizations of tracts. After a prospective approach over the whole brain, we demonstrated early leftward asymmetries in the arcuate fasciculus and in the cortico-spinal tract. These results suggest that the early macroscopic geometry, microscopic organization, and maturation of these white matter bundles are related to the development of later functional lateralization.

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