Leftward asymmetry in relative fiber density of the arcuate fasciculus

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Left hemispheric language dominance is well established, but the structural substrate for this functional asymmetry is uncertain. We report a strong asymmetry in the relative fiber density of the arcuate fasciculus, a white matter pathway associated with language that connects the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. Measured with diffusion tensor tractography, nearly all study participants demonstrated greater relative fiber density in the left arcuate fasciculus than in the right arcuate fasciculus. In comparison, we found no asymmetry in the corticospinal tract, an important white matter pathway with no known role in language. Combined with data on volumetric and activation asymmetry, greater connectivity may provide the elements of a neural system model for language lateralization.

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