Effects of handedness and sex on the morphology of the corpus callosum: A study with brain magnetic resonance imaging. Brain & Cognition, 16, 41-61

Neurological Clinic, C.H.U. Timone, Marseilles, France.
Brain and Cognition (Impact Factor: 2.48). 06/1991; 16(1):41-61. DOI: 10.1016/0278-2626(91)90084-L
Source: PubMed


In view of conflicting data in the existing literature, we examined 53 normal subjects using a handedness questionnaire and callosal area measurements obtained from midsagittal MRI images. The callosum was found to be significantly larger in nonconsistent right-handers (NCRH), especially in its anterior half and especially for males. A significant hand x sex interaction, favoring consistent right-handed (CRH) females, was also found for the posterior midbody, a region known to house interhemispheric fibers connecting the right and left posterior association cortices. These results (1) confirm Witelson's (1985) first findings on postmortem specimens; (2) validate a dichotomy between CRH and NCRH rather than simply considering the writing hand, as was the case in most other similar studies; and (3) suggest that at least two different sex-related--probably hormonal--factors may be acting during the callosal development, one explaining the larger anterior half in NCRH males and the other the larger posterior midbody in CRH females.

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    • "A growing body of research indicates that consistent (strong)handedness (i.e., exclusive use of the right hand for virtually all manual activities requiring fine motor control) is associated with decreased access to processes localized to the right hemisphere (RH), including episodic memory retrieval (e.g., Lyle, McCabe, & Roediger, 2008; Propper, Christman, & Phaneuf, 2005), body image representation (e.g., Christman, Bentle, & Niebauer, 2007; Niebauer, Aselage, & Schutte, 2002), and belief updating (e.g., Christman, Henning, Geers, Propper, & Niebauer, 2008; Jasper, Prothero, & Christman, 2009). This decreased access to RH processing is presumed to reflect the presence of (i) a smaller corpus callosum in strongly right-handed people (e.g., Clarke & Zaidel, 1994; Denenberg, Kertesz, & Cowell, 1991; Habib et al., 1991; Luders et al., 2010; Witelson & Goldsmith, 1991) and, subsequently, decreased RH activation in strongly righthanded people (e.g., Flor-Henry & Koles, 1982; Papousek & Schulter, 1999; Propper, Pierce, Geisler, Christman, & Bellorado, 2012). This idea that consistent (strong) right-versus inconsistent (mixed)-handedness is associated with decreased versus increased access to RH processing, respectively, has recently been extended to issues involving risk perception. "
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    • "Personal handedness has also been used as a behavioral marker for hemispheric interaction as several studies have found that mixed or inconsistent handed individuals have a relatively larger corpus callosum compared to right-handed individuals (e.g., Witelson, 1985; Denenberg et al., 1991; Habib et al., 1991; Clarke and Zaidel, 1994). The larger size of the corpus callosum subsequently provides a basis for greater hemispheric interaction (Christman, 1993, 1995; Niebauer et al., 2002). "
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    • "Because there is also evidence that left handed individuals are overly represented in sporting activities, especially in those in which individuals are pitted against each other (Aggleton & Wood, 1990; Grouios, Tsorbatzoudis, Alexandris, & Barkoukis, 2000; Holtzen, 2000), we included an almost equal number of right-and left-handed individuals, to assess the possibility that differences in callosal function might be due to handedness rather than sporting activity per se. Some studies have suggested that the size of the CC may vary as a function of handedness, but evidence as to the direction of the effect is conflicting: Some have suggested that the CC is larger in left-than in right-handed individuals (e.g., Habib et al., 1991; Witelson, 1985, 1989; Witelson & Goldsmith, 1991), and Cherbuin and Brinkman (2006) reported interhemispheric transfer to be faster in left-than in right-handed individuals. To assess callosal function, we follow the procedure used by Patston et al. (2007), using the simple reaction-time paradigm first devised by Poffenberger (1912), which provides a measure of ITT. "
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