In vivo morphometry of the intrasulcal gray matter in the human cingulate, paracingulate, and superior-rostral sulci: hemispheric asymmetries, gender differences and probability maps.
Volumes of the intrasulcal gray matter were measured in three cerebral sulci located on the medial wall of the human frontal lobe: cingulate sulcus (CS), paracingulate sulcus (PCS), and superior-rostral sulcus (SRS). The measurements were carried out on T1-weighted 3-D high-resolution magnetic-resonance (MR) images acquired in 105 young right-handed volunteers (42 female and 63 male). Before the measurement, the images were transformed into a standardized stereotaxic space (Talairach and Tournoux  Human Brain: 3-Dimensional Proportional System. An Approach to Cerebral Imaging. Stuttgart, New York: Georg Thieme Verlag), thus removing inter-individual differences in brain size. The intrasulcal gray matter was segmented in a semi-automatic manner. Significant gender differences were found in the volume of the CS (female > male) and the PCS (male > female). Hemispheric asymmetries were observed between the left and right volumes of the intrasulcal gray matter in the anterior (right > left) and posterior (left > right) segments of the CS, as well as between the left and right volumes of the PCS (left > right). There was no interaction between the asymmetries and gender. In addition, significant positive correlations were found between the left and right gray-matter volumes in the anterior (r = 0.43) and posterior (r = 0.66) segments of the CS, whereas significant negative correlations were observed between the gray-matter volumes of the anterior segment of the CS and those of the PCS (left hemisphere: r = -0.48; right hemisphere: r = -0.42). The observed hemispheric asymmetries in the CS and PCS gray-matter volumes are consistent with the proposed role of these structures in the integration of emotions with cognition (CS) and in the control of speech/vocalization (PCS). The pattern of inter-hemispheric correlations in the sulcal gray-matter points to an increasing asynchrony in the foetal development of primary (CS), secondary (SRS), and tertiary (PCS) sulci, respectively. The presence of negative correlations between the two neighbouring sulci (CS and PCS) suggests that a process of compensation could underlie interactions between adjacent primary and tertiary sulci. Besides the above volumetric analysis, we also provide average (probability) maps of the three sulci; the use of such maps for the parcellation of the medial frontal lobe and localization of "peaks" obtained in blood-flow activation studies is discussed.
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