Asymmetry of subinsular anisotropy by in vivo diffusion tensor imaging



The cortical regions specialized in speech–language exhibit a left–right asymmetry, e.g., a larger cortical size in the left auditory cortex and Wernicke's area. The possibility of developmental asymmetry in axonal fibers interconnecting speech–language cortical areas can be investigated by in vivo diffusion tensor imaging. Fifteen right-handed native English speakers showed a markedly significant asymmetry (P < 0. 0005) in the relative anisotropy of water diffusion in the subinsular white matter, greater on the left. Additionally, the first principal diffusivity was greater and the second and third principal diffusivities were smaller on the left than right side. These results suggest the subinsular axonal structures developed differently between the left and right sides. A possible association between the hemispheric specialization in language and speech and the subinsular axonal fiber development is discussed. Hum. Brain Mapp. 20:82–90, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.