Brain asymmetries from mid- to late life and hemispheric brain age

Nat Commun. 2024 Feb 1;15(1):956. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-45282-3.


The human brain demonstrates structural and functional asymmetries which have implications for ageing and mental and neurological disease development. We used a set of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) metrics derived from structural and diffusion MRI data in N=48,040 UK Biobank participants to evaluate age-related differences in brain asymmetry. Most regional grey and white matter metrics presented asymmetry, which were higher later in life. Informed by these results, we conducted hemispheric brain age (HBA) predictions from left/right multimodal MRI metrics. HBA was concordant to conventional brain age predictions, using metrics from both hemispheres, but offers a supplemental general marker of brain asymmetry when setting left/right HBA into relationship with each other. In contrast to WM brain asymmetries, left/right discrepancies in HBA are lower at higher ages. Our findings outline various sex-specific differences, particularly important for brain age estimates, and the value of further investigating the role of brain asymmetries in brain ageing and disease development.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter* / pathology