Variability of the paracingulate sulcus and morphometry of the medial frontal cortex: associations with cortical thickness, surface area, volume, and sulcal depth

Hum Brain Mapp. 2008 Feb;29(2):222-36. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20381.


The structural and functional consequences of interindividual variations in cortical morphology are poorly understood. In this study, we examined the relationship between one well-characterized variation of the medial frontal lobes, variability of the paracingulate sulcus (PCS), and grey matter volume, cortical thickness, surface area, and sulcal depth of the adjacent anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and paracingulate cortex (PaC). Seventy-seven healthy individuals were assigned to one of four groups depending on PCS incidence in both hemispheres: left-present, right-absent; left-absent, right-present; both absent; or both present. Comparing these groups on each measure yielded four primary findings: (1) The presence of a PCS was associated with increased PaC and decreased ACC grey matter volume in the hemisphere in which it was apparent, with an almost identical pattern being observed for surface area; (2) there was a more complex relationship between PCS variability and regional thickness, such that a PCS in the left hemisphere was associated with increased left PaC and right ACC thickness, with no comparable effects being observed for the presence of a right PCS; (3) the depths of all major left hemisphere sulci in the region were strongly positively correlated, whereas no such associations were apparent in the right hemisphere; and (4) a leftward asymmetry in PaC thickness was specifically associated with better performance on a test of spatial working memory ability. These results provide evidence for a complex interhemispheric relationship between sulcal variability and cortical morphometry, and indicate that such relationships may be important for understanding individual differences in cognitive abilities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors