Structural white matter asymmetries in relation to functional asymmetries during speech perception and production

Research Area: Research Year: 2013
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: Arcuate fasciculus; Uncinate fasciculus; Diffusion tensor tractography; Tract-based spatial statistics; Functional hemispheric asymmetries; Structural hemispheric asymmetries
Authors: Ocklenburg, Sebastian; Hugdahl, Kenneth; Westerhausen, Rene
Functional hemispheric asymmetries of speech production and perception are a key feature of the human language system, but their neurophysiological basis is still poorly understood. Using a combined fMRI and tract-based spatial statistics approach, we investigated the relation of microstructural asymmetries in language-relevant white matter pathways and functional activation asymmetries during silent verb generation and passive listening to spoken words. Tract-based spatial statistics revealed several leftward asymmetric clusters in the arcuate fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus that were differentially related to activation asymmetries in the two functional tasks. Frontal and temporal activation asymmetries during silent verb generation were positively related to the strength of specific microstructural white matter asymmetries in the arcuate fasciculus. In contrast, microstructural uncinate fasciculus asymmetries were related to temporal activation asymmetries during passive listening. These findings suggest that white matter asymmetries may indeed be one of the factors underlying functional hemispheric asymmetries. Moreover, they also show that specific localized white matter asymmetries might be of greater relevance for functional activation asymmetries than microstructural features of whole pathways
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