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Mapping sulcal pattern asymmetry and local cortical surface gray matter distribution in vivo: Maturation in perisylvian cortices

  • Author(s): Sowell, ER
  • Thompson, PM
  • Rex, D
  • Kornsand, D
  • Tessner, KD
  • Jernigan, TL
  • Toga, AW
  • et al.
Abstract

Previous in vivo morphometric studies of human brain maturation between childhood and young adulthood have revealed a spatial and temporal pattern of progressive brain changes that is consistent with the post mortem cytoarchitectonic and cognitive developmental literatures. In this study, we mapped age differences in structural asymmetries at the cortical surface in groups of normally developing children (7-11 years), adolescents (12-16 years) and young adults (23-30 years) using novel surface-based mesh modeling image analytic methods. We also assessed relationships between cortical surface sulcal asymmetry and the local density of the underlying cortical gray matter. Results from this study reveal that perisylvian sulcal asymmetries are much more prominent in the adults than in the children studied. The superior posterior extent of the Sylvian fissure in the right hemisphere is ∼7 mm more superior in the average adult than in the average child studied, whereas little difference is observed during this age range in the location of this anatomical structure in the left hemisphere. Age-related differences in Sylvian fissure asymmetry were significant (P = 0.0129, permutation test), showing increased asymmetry with increasing age. We also show age-related increases in local gray matter proportion bilaterally in the temporo-parietal cortices that are anatomically and temporally related to the sulcal asymmetries. Results from this cross-sectional study imply that asymmetries in the Sylvian fissure are dynamically changing into young adulthood and show that variability in brain tissue density is related to asymmetry in this region. These morphological differences may be related to changing cognitive abilities and are relevant in interpreting results from studies of abnormal brain development where perisylvian brain regions are implicated.

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