Associations between Cortical Asymmetry and Domain Specific Cognitive Functions in Healthy Children

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2021 Nov:2021:3127-3132. doi: 10.1109/EMBC46164.2021.9630831.


Cortical asymmetry and functional lateralization form intriguing and fundamental features of human brain organization, and is complicated by individual differences and evolvement with age. While many studies have investigated neuroanatomical differences between hemispheres as well as functional lateralization of the brain for different age groups, few have looked into the associations between cortical asymmetry and development of cognitive functions in children. In this study, we aimed to identify relationships between hemispheric asymmetry in brain cortex measured by MRI and cognitive development in healthy young children evaluated by a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests. Structural MRI data were obtained from 71 children in the age range of 7.5 to 8.5 years. Structural lateralization index (SLI), a reflection of the brain asymmetry, was computed for each of the 3 cortical morphometry measurements: cortical thickness, surface area and gray matter volume. A total of 34 bilateral regions were studied for the whole brain cortex as defined by the Desikan atlas. Region-wise SLI was correlated with domain specific cognitive scores using partial correlation analysis controlled for the potential confounding effects of age and sex. Significant correlations were identified between test scores of multiple cognitive domains and SLI of several cortical regions. Specifically, SLI of total surface area of precuneus and insula significantly correlated with measures of executive function behavior; significant relationships were also found between SLI of mean cortical thickness of superior parietal cortex and memory and language tests scores; in addition, SLI of parahippocampal gyrus also showed significant correlations with language test scores for all 3 morphometry features. These findings revealed regional hemispheric asymmetries that may be linked to specific cognitive abilities in children.Clinical relevance- This study shows associations between structural lateralization in different brain cortical regions and variations in specific cognitive functions in healthy children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*