Individual differences in anterior cingulate/paracingulate morphology are related to executive functions in healthy males

Cereb Cortex. 2004 Apr;14(4):424-31. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhh004.


The neuropsychological correlates of inter-individual variations in cortical folding are poorly understood. Anterior cingulate (AC) cortex is one region characterized by considerable variability, particularly with respect to the paracingulate sulcus (PCS), which is present in only 30-60% of individuals and more commonly found in the left cerebral hemisphere. To investigate whether inter-individual differences in this PCS asymmetry are related to cognitive performance, we classified 30 healthy right-handed males as displaying either a leftward, rightward or symmetric pattern of folding based on the incidence and extent of the PCS in each hemisphere, and compared their performance on tasks engaging executive cognitive processes associated with frontal lobe function. We found that the more common leftward PCS asymmetry was associated with better performance across verbal and non-verbal executive tasks, but that PCS variability had no effect on tasks less dependent on executive functions. These results suggest that the leftward pattern of folding is associated with a non-specific performance advantage on cognitively demanding executive function tasks, possibly due to differences in functional interactions between AC/paracingulate cortex and connected frontal regions. It therefore appears that normal variations in brain morphology are associated with individual differences in cognitive abilities.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reading
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Verbal Learning