Background: Most humans are right handed, and most humans exhibit left-right asymmetries of the precentral corticospinal system. Recent studies indicate that chimpanzees also show a population-level right-handed bias, although it is less strong than in humans.
Methodology/principal findings: We used in vivo diffusion-weighted and T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the relationship between the corticospinal tract (CST) and handedness in 36 adult female chimpanzees. Chimpanzees exhibited a hemispheric bias in fractional anisotropy (FA, left>right) and mean diffusivity (MD, right>left) of the CST, and the left CST was centered more posteriorly than the right. Handedness correlated with central sulcus depth, but not with FA or MD.
Conclusions/significance: These anatomical results are qualitatively similar to those reported in humans, despite the differences in handedness. The existence of a left>right FA, right>left MD bias in the corticospinal tract that does not correlate with handedness, a result also reported in some human studies, suggests that at least some of the structural asymmetries of the corticospinal system are not exclusively related to laterality of hand preference.