Left hemisphere lateralization for language in right-handers is controlled in part by familial sinistrality, manual preference strength, and head size

J Neurosci. 2010 Oct 6;30(40):13314-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2593-10.2010.


We investigated the effects of familial sinistrality (FS+; presence of left-handedness in one's close relatives), manual preference strength (MPS), and head size on the hemispheric lateralization of language in right-handers. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to map 49 individuals while listening to a story in their mother tongue. We found that individuals who had both the FS+ trait and weak MPS had no left hemisphere dominance for this lexicosyntactic task, whereas others showed a leftward functional asymmetry. In addition, the smaller the brain size, the smaller the leftward asymmetry for language, independent of FS and MPS. None of these effects were observed when the same subjects performed a spatial attention task that elicited right hemispheric functional asymmetry. These results demonstrate that the left hemisphere dominance for language in right-handers is a variable controlled, in part, by a number of specific factors, including FS, MPS, and head size.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Body Size / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / genetics*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hand / anatomy & histology
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Head / innervation
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language Tests*
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / genetics*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology
  • Young Adult