Hemispheric and gender-related differences in the gross morphology of the anterior cingulate/paracingulate cortex in normal volunteers: an MRI morphometric study

Cereb Cortex. 2001 Jan;11(1):17-25. doi: 10.1093/cercor/11.1.17.


The sulci and gyri found within the anterior cingulate (AC), and across the cerebrum generally, have been found to vary in location and complexity from one individual to the next, making it difficult to analyze imaging data accurately and systematically. In this study, we examined the nature of morphometric variance in the AC of the left and right cerebral hemispheres using high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) acquired from 176 healthy volunteers. Depending on the presence of a paracingulate sulcus (PCS) and its antero-posterior extent, three types of AC patterns were identified: 'prominent', 'present' and 'absent'. Hemispheric comparisons across the whole sample showed the PCS to be more commonly 'prominent' in the left hemisphere and more commonly 'absent' in the right hemisphere. There was a significant gender difference, such that males showed an asymmetric pattern characterized by increased fissurization of the left AC, while females showed greater symmetry, with less fissurization of the left AC. Overall cerebral morphology, namely hemispheric volume and hemispheric fissurization, were also measured and used as independent variables as well as covariates in the analyses in order to ascertain the specificity of the results regarding AC morphology. Results showed that cerebral volume for males was larger on the right than on the left while fissurization showed the reverse asymmetry of greater leftward fissurization. In contrast, females were symmetric in both respects. The findings regarding AC morphology could not be explained by differences in these overall cerebral measures or by differences in age and handedness within the population. The results suggest that in the normal male brain, there exist morphological asymmetries at both the global and local levels that are less apparent in the female brain. The findings have implications for future studies examining the organization, development and functional anatomy of the AC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors