Cerebral cortex: an MRI-based study of volume and variance with age and sex

J Clin Neurosci. 2006 Jan;13(1):60-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2005.02.013.


The aim of the present study was to examine quantitative differences in lobar cerebral cortical volumes in a healthy adult population. Quantitative volumetric MRI of whole brain, cerebral and cerebellar volumes was performed in a cross-sectional analysis of 97 normal volunteers, with segmented frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital cortical volumes measured in a subgroup of 60 subjects, 30 male and 30 female, matched for age and sex. The right cerebral hemisphere was larger than the left across the study group with a small (<1%) but significant difference in symmetry (P<0.001). No difference was found between volumes of right and left cerebellar hemispheres. Rightward cerebral cortical asymmetry (right larger than left) was found to be significant across all lobes except parietal. Males had greater cerebral, cerebellar and cerebral cortical lobar volumes than females. Larger male cerebral cortical volumes were seen in all lobes except for left parietal. Females had greater left parietal to left cerebral hemisphere and smaller left temporal to left cerebral hemisphere ratios. There was a mild reduction in cerebral volumes with age, more marked in males. This study confirms and augments past work indicating underlying structural asymmetries in the human brain, and provides further evidence that brain structures in humans are differentially sensitive to the effects of both age and sex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Characteristics*