When more is less: Associations between corpus callosum size and handedness lateralization
Although not consistently replicated, a substantial number of studies suggest that left-handers have larger callosal regions than right-handers. We challenge this notion and propose that callosal size is not linked to left-handedness or right-handedness per se but to the degree of handedness lateralization. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the thickness of the corpus callosum in a large data set (n=361). We analyzed the correlations between callosal thickness and the degree of handedness lateralization in 324 right-handers and 37 left-handers at 100 equidistant points across the corpus callosum. We revealed significant negative correlations within the anterior and posterior midbody suggesting that larger callosal dimensions in these regions are associated with a weaker handedness lateralization. Significant positive correlations were completely absent. In addition, we compared callosal thickness between moderately lateralized left-handers (n=37) and three equally sized groups (n=37) of right-handers (strongly, moderately, and weakly lateralized). The outcomes of these group analyses confirmed the negative association between callosal size and handedness lateralization, although callosal differences between right- and left-handers did not reach statistical significance. This suggests that callosal differences are rather small, if examined as a dichotomy between two handedness groups. Future studies will expand this line of research by increasing the number of left-handers to boost statistical power and by combining macro- and microstructural, as well as functional and behavioral measurements to identify the biological mechanisms linking callosal morphology and handedness lateralization.
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