Blog Archives

Sensitive period for white-matter connectivity of superior temporal cortex in deaf people

Previous studies have shown that white matter in the deaf brain changes due to hearing loss. However, how white-matter development is influenced by early hearing experience of deaf people is still unknown. Using diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics, we compared white-matter structures among three groups of subjects including 60 congenitally deaf individuals, 36 acquired deaf (AD) individuals, and 38 sex- and age-matched hearing controls (HC). The result showed that the deaf individuals had significantly reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) values in bilateral superior temporal cortex and the splenium of corpus callosum compared to HC. The reduction of FA values in acquired deafness correlated with onset age of deafness, but not the duration of deafness. To explore the underlying mechanism of FA changes in the deaf groups, we further analyzed radial and axial diffusivities and found that (1) the reduced FA values in deaf individuals compared to HC is primarily driven by higher radial diffusivity values and (2) in the AD, higher radial diffusivity was correlated with earlier onset age of deafness, but not the duration of deafness. These findings imply that early sensory experience is critical for the growth of fiber myelination, and anatomical reorganization following auditory deprivation is sensitive to early plasticity in the brain.

from Human Brain Mapping

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Lateralization of the arcuate fasciculus and its differential correlation with reading ability between young learners and experienced readers: A diffusion tensor tractography study in a chinese cohort

As Chinese reading engages a different neural network from alphabetic language reading, we investigate whether leftward lateralization of the arcuate fasciculus (AF), as observed in the Western population, is also present in the Chinese population and if it does, whether it is associated with better reading ability. Diffusion tensor tractography analysis on 75 Chinese subjects of three age groups (first graders, fourth graders, and college students) showed that 70–83% of them had leftward lateralization of the AF. The pattern of lateralization did not differ significantly among the three groups, suggesting that lateralization of the AF is formed at an early age and before one enters first grade. Among the first graders, who had just started to learn to read, subjects with strongly leftward lateralized AF scored significantly higher than those with other defined lateralization patterns in Chinese (P = 0.001) and English (P = 0.036) reading tasks. This association was not observed among the fourth graders and college students who were experienced Chinese readers. Among the fourth graders, females were found to obtain significantly higher Chinese (P = 0.033) and English reading scores than males (P = 0.002). Our study suggests a differential effect of leftward lateralization of the AF on reading ability at different stages of reading development in the Chinese population

from Human Brain Mapping

The role of the arcuate fasciculus in conduction aphasia

In aphasia literature, it has been considered that a speech repetition defect represents the main constituent of conduction aphasia. Conduction aphasia has frequently been interpreted as a language impairment due to lesions of the arcuate fasciculus (AF) that disconnect receptive language areas from expressive ones. Modern neuroradiological studies suggest that the AF connects posterior receptive areas with premotor/motor areas, and not with Broca’s area. Some clinical and neurophysiological findings challenge the role of the AF in language transferring. Unusual cases of inter-hemispheric dissociation of language lateralization (e.g. Broca’s area in the left, and Wernicke’s area in the right hemisphere) have been reported without evident repetition defects; electrocortical studies have found that the AF not only transmits information from temporal to frontal areas, but also in the opposite direction; transferring of speech information from the temporal to the frontal lobe utilizes two different streams and conduction aphasia can be found in cases of cortical damage without subcortical extension. Taken altogether, these findings may suggest that the AF is not required for repetition although could have a subsidiary role in it. A new language network model is proposed, emphasizing that the AF connects posterior brain areas with Broca’s area via a relay station in the premotor/motor areas.

from Brain

The role of the arcuate fasciculus in conduction aphasia

In aphasia literature, it has been considered that a speech repetition defect represents the main constituent of conduction aphasia. Conduction aphasia has frequently been interpreted as a language impairment due to lesions of the arcuate fasciculus (AF) that disconnect receptive language areas from expressive ones. Modern neuroradiological studies suggest that the AF connects posterior receptive areas with premotor/motor areas, and not with Broca’s area. Some clinical and neurophysiological findings challenge the role of the AF in language transferring. Unusual cases of inter-hemispheric dissociation of language lateralization (e.g. Broca’s area in the left, and Wernicke’s area in the right hemisphere) have been reported without evident repetition defects; electrocortical studies have found that the AF not only transmits information from temporal to frontal areas, but also in the opposite direction; transferring of speech information from the temporal to the frontal lobe utilizes two different streams and conduction aphasia can be found in cases of cortical damage without subcortical extension. Taken altogether, these findings may suggest that the AF is not required for repetition although could have a subsidiary role in it. A new language network model is proposed, emphasizing that the AF connects posterior brain areas with Broca’s area via a relay station in the premotor/motor areas.

from the Journal of Neurology

Lateralization of the arcuate fasciculus from childhood to adulthood and its relation to cognitive abilities in children

Abstract
The arcuate fasciculus is a major white matter tract involved in language processing that has also been repeatedly implicated in intelligence and reasoning tasks. Language in the human brain is lateralized in terms of both function and structure, and while the arcuate fasciculus reflects this asymmetry, its pattern of lateralization is poorly understood in children and adolescents. We used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography to examine arcuate fasciculus lateralization in a large (n = 183) group of healthy right-handed volunteers aged 5-30 years; a subset of 68 children aged 5-13 years also underwent cognitive assessments. Fractional anisotropy and number of streamlines of the arcuate fasciculus were both significantly higher in the left hemisphere than the right hemisphere in most subjects, although some subjects (10%) were right lateralized. Age and gender effects on lateralization were not significant. Children receiving cognitive assessments were divided into three groups: a left-only group in whom only the left side of the arcuate fasciculus could be tracked, a left-lateralized group, and a right-lateralized group. Scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) and NEPSY Phonological Processing task differed significantly among groups, with left-only subjects outperforming the right-lateralized group on the PPVT, and the left-lateralized children scoring significantly better than the right-lateralized group on phonological processing. In summary, DTI tractography demonstrates leftward arcuate fasciculus lateralization in children, adolescents, and young adults, and reveals a relationship between structural white matter lateralization and specific cognitive abilities in children. Hum Brain Mapp, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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from Human Brain Mapping