Sex, age, and cognitive correlates of asymmetries in thickness of the cortical mantle across the life span

Research Area: Research Year: 2014
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: asymmetry; cognitive performance; cortical thickness
Authors: von Plessen, Kerstin; Hugdahl, Kenneth; Bansal, Ravi; Hao, Xuejun; Peterson, Bradley S.
We assessed the correlations of age, sex, and cognitive performance with measures of asymmetry in cortical thickness on high-resolution MRIs in 215 healthy human children and adults, 7-59 years of age. A left > right asymmetry in thickness of the cortical mantle was present throughout the entire lateral, dorsal, and mesial surfaces of the frontal lobe, extending into primary sensory, superior parietal, and anterior superior temporal cortices. A right > left asymmetry was present in the lateral, mesial, and dorsal surfaces of the posterior temporal, parietal, and occipital cortices, as well as in the entire inferior surface of the brain. An exaggerated left > right asymmetry was detected in females in anterior brain regions, and an exaggerated right > left asymmetry was detected in males in the orbitofrontal, inferior parietal, and inferior occipital cortices. Weaker moderating effects of sex were scattered along the mesial surface of the brain. Age significantly moderated asymmetry measures in the inferior sensorimotor, inferior parietal, posterior temporal, and inferior occipital cortices. The age × asymmetry interaction derived from a steeper decline in cortical thickness with age in the right hemisphere than in the left on the lateral surface, whereas it derived from a steeper decline with age in the left hemisphere than in the right on the mesial surface. Finally, measures of performance on working memory and vocabulary tasks improved with increasing magnitudes of normal asymmetries in regions thought to support these cognitive capacities.
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