The relationship between corpus callosum size and forebrain volume

Cereb Cortex. Jan-Feb 1997;7(1):48-56. doi: 10.1093/cercor/7.1.48.


Using high-resolution in vivo magnetic resonance morphometry we measured forebrain volume (FBV), midsagittal size of the corpus callosum (CC) and four CC subareas in 120 young and healthy adults (49 women, 71 men). We found moderate linear and quadratic correlations, indicating that the CC and all CC subareas increase with FBV both in men and women (multiple r2 ranging from 0.10 to 0.28). Allometric equations revealed that these increases were less than proportional to FBV (r2 ranging from 0.02 to 0.30). Absolute CC measurements, as well as CC subareas relative to total CC or FBV (the latter measures termed the CC ratios), were further analyzed with regard to possible effects of handedness, gender, or handedness by gender interaction. Contrary to previous reports, left-handers did not show larger CC measurements compared to right-handers. The only apparent influence of gender was on the CC ratios, which were larger in women. However, smaller brains had larger CC ratios which were mainly independent of gender, a result of the less than proportional increase of callosal size with FBV. We suggest that the previously described gender differences in CC anatomy may be better explained by an underlying effect of brain size, with larger brains having relatively smaller callosa. This lends empirical support to the hypothesis that brain size may be an important factor influencing interhemispheric connectivity and lateralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Size / physiology*
  • Corpus Callosum / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prosencephalon / physiology*
  • Sex Factors