Variations in the individual anatomy of the corpus callosum have been reported in several conditions. There seem to be genetic influencing factors, but it is impossible to rule out some environmental ones. This study focuses on the question of the environmental factors, using formal learning to read and write as the main difference in the groups to be compared. Based on magnetic resonance imaging sagital images, the contour of the corpus callosum (CC) of 41 carefully selected women (18 illiterate and 23 literate) was digitized. The comparison between the two groups showed a small difference in the region of the CC where parietal fibres are thought to cross. This region is thinner in illiterate subjects. As illiteracy in this group is the result of social constraints, and the two groups that were compared are well matched for other cultural and pragmatic aspects than literacy, the results are interpreted as showing the possible influence of formal learning to read and write, on the biological development of the brain.
Copyright 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins