Intra-hemispheric intrinsic connectivity asymmetry and its relationships with handedness and language Lateralization

Neuropsychologia. 2016 Dec;93(Pt B):437-447. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.03.013. Epub 2016 Mar 14.


Asymmetry in intra-hemispheric intrinsic connectivity, and its association with handedness and hemispheric dominance for language, were investigated in a sample of 290 healthy volunteers enriched in left-handers (52.7%). From the resting-state FMRI data of each participant, we derived an intra-hemispheric intrinsic connectivity asymmetry (HICA) matrix as the difference between the left and right intra-hemispheric matrices of intrinsic correlation computed for each pair of the AICHA atlas ROIs. We defined a similarity measure between the HICA matrices of two individuals as the correlation coefficient of their corresponding elements, and computed for each individual an index of intra-hemispheric intrinsic connectivity asymmetry as the average similarity measure of his HICA matrix to those of the other subjects of the sample (HICAs). Gaussian-mixture modeling of the age-corrected HICAs sample distribution revealed that two types of HICA patterns were present, one (Typical_HICA) including 92.4% of the participants while the other (Atypical_HICA) included only 7.6% of them, mostly left-handers. In addition, we investigated the relationship between asymmetry in intra-hemispheric intrinsic connectivity and language hemispheric dominance, including a potential effect of handedness on this relationship, thanks to an FMRI acquisition during language production from which an hemispheric functional lateralization index for language (HFLI) and a type of hemispheric dominance for language, namely leftward, ambilateral, or rightward, were derived for each individual. There was a significant association between the types of language hemispheric dominance and of intra-hemispheric intrinsic connectivity asymmetry, occurrence of Atypical_HICAs individuals being very high in the group of individuals rightward-lateralized for language (80%), reduced in the ambilateral group (19%) and rare in individuals leftward-lateralized for language (less than 3%). Quantitatively, we found a significant positive linear relationship between the HICAs and HFLI indices, with an effect of handedness on the intercept but not on the slope of this relationship. These findings demonstrate that handedness and hemispheric dominance for language are significantly but independently associated with the asymmetry of intra-hemispheric intrinsic connectivity. These findings suggest that asymmetry in intra-hemispheric connectivity is a variable phenotype shaped in part by hemispheric lateralization for language, but possibly also depending on other lateralized functions.

Keywords: Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Handedness; Hemispheric specialization; Intrinsic connectivity; Language.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Language Tests
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Rest
  • Young Adult