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Keywords:

  • diffusion tensor imaging;
  • graph theoretical analysis;
  • lateralization;
  • development;
  • gender;
  • structural connectome

Abstract

The study on structural brain asymmetries in healthy individuals plays an important role in our understanding of the factors that modulate cognitive specialization in the brain. Here, we used fiber tractography to reconstruct the left and right hemispheric networks of a large cohort of 346 healthy participants (20–86 years) and performed a graph theoretical analysis to investigate this brain laterality from a network perspective. Findings revealed that the left hemisphere is significantly more “efficient” than the right hemisphere, whereas the right hemisphere showed higher values of “betweenness centrality” and “small-worldness.” In particular, left-hemispheric networks displayed increased nodal efficiency in brain regions related to language and motor actions, whereas the right hemisphere showed an increase in nodal efficiency in brain regions involved in memory and visuospatial attention. In addition, we found that hemispheric networks decrease in efficiency with age. Finally, we observed significant gender differences in measures of global connectivity. By analyzing the structural hemispheric brain networks, we have provided new insights into understanding the neuroanatomical basis of lateralized brain functions. Hum Brain Mapp 35:4944–4957, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.