Normal neuroanatomical variation in the human brain: an MRI-volumetric study

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2002 Aug;118(4):341-58. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.10092.


Normative data on the in vivo size of the human brain and its major anatomically defined subdivisions are not readily available. In this study, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure regional brain volumes in 46 normal, right-handed adults (23 men, 23 women) between the ages of 22-49 years. Parcellation of the brain was based on neuroanatomical landmarks. The following brain regions were measured: the cerebral hemispheres, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, cingulate gyrus, insula, cerebellum, corpus callosum, and lateral ventricles. Males tend to be significantly larger than females, for the whole brain and for nearly all of its major subdivisions, including the corpus callosum. However, the proportional sizes of regions relative to total volume of the hemisphere are remarkably similar in males and females. Variation in size of region is always greater than variation in proportional representation. Asymmetries in brain regions are not profound, with the exception of the cingulate gyrus, which is larger in the left hemisphere. Brain regions are highly correlated in size, with the exception of the lateral ventricles. After controlling for hemisphere size, the volumes of the frontal and parietal lobes are significantly negatively correlated. The occipital lobe tends to be less sexually dimorphic than other major lobes, and less correlated with other brain regions for volume. These results have implications for understanding whether or not certain sectors of the brain have shown relative expansion over the course of hominid and hominoid evolution.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Sex Distribution