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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #386850

Research Project: Effects of Diet and Physical Activity on Maternal/Child/Adolescent Health and Development

Location: Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center

Title: Associations between cortical asymmetry and domain specific

item RAJA, RAJIKHA - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item NA, XIAOXU - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item GLASIER, CHARLES - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item Badger, Thomas
item BELLANDO, JAYNE - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)
item OU, XIAWEI - University Arkansas For Medical Sciences (UAMS)

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Hemispheric asymmetry or lateralization denotes the structural differences between left and right hemispheres. In this study we evaluated the associations between structural lateralization in different brain cortical regions and variations in specific cognitive functions in healthy children. We utilized structural MRI to compute the structural lateralization in young children based on cortical morphometric measurements, and evaluated its relationships with a comprehensive set of neuropsychological test scores spanning various cognitive domains including intelligence, memory, language, academic skills and executive function. We found significant relationships between structural lateralization index in several brain regions and neuropsychological test performance in several measures. In general, more leftward lateralization tended to be associated with better language and memory functioning, while either more leftward or more rightward lateralization in different regions were associated with less executive functioning issues. These findings help in understanding the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.

Technical Abstract: Cortical asymmetry and functional lateralization form intriguing and fundamental features of human brain organization, and is complicated by individual differences and evolvement with age. While many studies have investigated neuroanatomical differences between hemispheres as well as functional lateralization of the brain for different age groups, few have looked into the associations between cortical asymmetry and development of cognitive functions in children. In this study, we aimed to identify relationships between hemispheric asymmetry in brain cortex measured by MRI and cognitive development in healthy young children evaluated by a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests. Structural MRI data were obtained from 71 children in the age range of 7.5 to 8.5 years. Structural lateralization index (SLI), a reflection of the brain asymmetry, was computed for each of the 3 cortical morphometry measurements: cortical thickness, surface area and gray matter volume. A total of 34 bilateral regions were studied for the whole brain cortex as defined by the Desikan atlas. Region-wise SLI was correlated with domain specific cognitive scores using partial correlation analysis controlled for the potential confounding effects of age and sex. Significant correlations were identified between test scores of multiple cognitive domains and SLI of several cortical regions. Specifically, SLI of total surface area of precuneus and insula significantly correlated with measures of executive function behavior; significant relationships were also found between SLI of mean cortical thickness of superior parietal cortex and memory and language tests scores; in addition, SLI of parahippocampal gyrus also showed significant correlations with language test scores for all 3 morphometry features. These findings revealed regional hemispheric asymmetries that may be linked to specific cognitive abilities in children.