Automatic analysis of cerebral asymmetry: an exploratory study of the relationship between brain torque and planum temporale asymmetry.
Barrick TR., Mackay CE., Prima S., Maes F., Vandermeulen D., Crow TJ., Roberts N.
Leftward occipital and rightward frontal lobe asymmetry (brain torque) and leftward planum temporale asymmetry have been consistently reported in postmortem and in vivo neuroimaging studies of the human brain. Here automatic image analysis techniques are applied to quantify global and local asymmetries, and investigate the relationship between brain torque and planum temporale asymmetries on T1-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) images of 30 right-handed young healthy subjects (15 male, 15 female). Previously described automatic cerebral hemisphere extraction and 3D interhemispheric reflection-based methods for studying brain asymmetry are applied with a new technique, LowD (Low Dimension), which enables automatic quantification of brain torque. LowD integrates extracted left and right cerebral hemispheres in columns orthogonal to the midsagittal plane (2D column maps), and subsequently integrates slices along the brain's anterior-posterior axis (1D slice profiles). A torque index defined as the magnitude of occipital and frontal lobe asymmetry is computed allowing exploratory investigation of relationships between this global asymmetry and local asymmetries found in the planum temporale. LowD detected significant torque in the 30 subjects with occipital and frontal components found to be highly correlated (P<0.02). Significant leftward planum temporale asymmetry was detected (P<0.05), and the torque index correlated with planum temporale asymmetry (P<0.001). However, torque and total brain volume were not correlated. Therefore, although components of cerebral asymmetry may be related, their magnitude is not influenced by total hemisphere volume. LowD provides increased sensitivity for detection and quantification of brain torque on an individual subject basis, and future studies will apply these techniques to investigate the relationship between cerebral asymmetry and functional laterality.