White matter asymmetry in healthy individuals: a diffusion tensor imaging study using tract-based spatial statistics

Neuroscience. 2011 Oct 13;193:291-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.07.041. Epub 2011 Jul 29.


The purpose of this study was to investigate white matter asymmetry across the whole brain and evaluate the effects of age and sex on white matter asymmetry in a large sample of healthy adults. A total of 857 normal subjects (310 females and 547 males, mean age=56.1±9.9 years, age range=24.9-84.8 years) were included in this study. With use of tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS), we investigated white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) asymmetry and evaluated the effects of age and sex on white matter FA asymmetry. The voxel-wise analysis showed a large number of white matter FA asymmetries including leftward asymmetry of the arcuate fasciculus and cingulum. The effects of age and sex on white matter FA asymmetry were minor compared to overall FA asymmetries. Small regions showed a significant effect of age or sex, due to the large sample, but this may not be relevant in practice. There was no significant interaction between age and sex. The results of our study demonstrate white matter asymmetry in healthy adults and suggest that white matter asymmetry is relatively stable during aging and not much different between males and females.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology*
  • Sex Factors