Descriptive anatomy of Heschl's gyri in 430 healthy volunteers, including 198 left-handers

Brain Struct Funct. 2015 Mar;220(2):729-43. doi: 10.1007/s00429-013-0680-x. Epub 2013 Dec 6.


This study describes the gyrification patterns and surface areas of Heschl's gyrus (HG) in 430 healthy volunteers mapped with magnetic resonance imaging. Among the 232 right-handers, we found a large occurrence of duplication (64 %), especially on the right (49 vs. 37 % on the left). Partial duplication was twice more frequent on the left than complete duplication. On the opposite, in the right hemisphere, complete duplication was 10 % more frequent than partial duplication. The most frequent inter-hemispheric gyrification patterns were bilateral single HG (36 %) and left single-right duplication (27 %). The least common patterns were left duplication-right single (22 %) and bilateral duplication (15 %). Duplication was associated with decreased anterior HG surface area on the corresponding side, independently of the type of duplication, and increased total HG surface area (including the second gyrus). Inter-hemispheric gyrification patterns strongly influenced both anterior and total HG surface area asymmetries, leftward asymmetry of the anterior HG surface was observed in all patterns except double left HG, and total HG surface asymmetry favored the side of duplication. Compared to right-handers, the 198 left-handers exhibited lower occurrence of duplication, and larger right anterior HG surface and total HG surface areas. Left-handers' HG surface asymmetries were thus significantly different from those of right-handers, with a loss of leftward asymmetry of their anterior HG surface, and with significant rightward asymmetry of their total HG surface. In summary, gyrification patterns have a strong impact on HG surface and asymmetry. The observed reduced lateralization of HG duplications and anterior HG asymmetry in left-handers highlights HG inter-hemispheric gyrification patterns as a potential candidate marker of speech lateralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male