White matter pathway asymmetry underlies functional lateralization.
Barrick TR., Lawes IN., Mackay CE., Clark CA.
Structural and functional asymmetry of the human brain has been well documented using techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, asymmetry of underlying white matter connections is less well understood. We applied an MRI technique known as diffusion tensor tractography to reveal the morphology of the white matter in vivo by mapping directions of maximum water diffusion in brain tissue. White matter pathway asymmetry was investigated in a normalized image data set of 30 right-handed young healthy individuals. We identified, for the first time, a rightwardly asymmetric pathway connecting the posterior temporal lobe to the superior parietal lobule. This pathway may be related to auditory spatial attention and working memory for which there is evidence for a rightward laterality from functional imaging studies. Additional leftward asymmetries connecting the parietal and frontal lobes to the temporal lobe may be more closely related to laterality of language.