Brain connections: interhemispheric fiber systems and anatomical brain asymmetries in humans

F Aboitiz
Biological Research 1992, 25 (2): 51-61
The present review summarizes some results of a research program oriented to determine the anatomical substrates of interhemispheric communication in humans, as seen in postmortem material. One main finding is a sensible pattern of histological differentiation along the corpus callosum, indicating specific properties of interhemispheric conduction for axonal fibers involved in different brain functions. Callosal regions that connect primary and secondary sensory and motor areas are characterized by a large proportion of fast-conducting, large-diameter fibers, while regions connecting the so-called association areas and prefrontal areas bear a high density of slow-conducting, lightly myelinated and thin fibers. These findings are interpreted in a functional context, suggesting that the fast-conducting fibers connecting sensory and motor areas contribute to fuse the two hemirepresentations in each hemisphere. It has also been determined that an increased callosal area indicates an increased number of callosal fibers, a finding that validates previous morphometric studies done in several laboratories. No sex differences in callosal size, shape, or in callosal fiber composition were found. Finally, an inverse relation was found between the anatomical asymmetries in the size of the Sylvian fissure and the size and number of fibers in specific segments of the corpus callosum. There were sex differences in terms of the particular callosal regions showing a significant correlation with asymmetries, and in terms of the fiber types that were correlated with asymmetries.

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