SEP 21, 2022 7:18 AM PDT

What We Can Learn From Brain Asymmetry

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study published in eLife examined the subtle differences in functional organization between the left and right side of the brain to determine the impact of genetic and environmental factors on brain development. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Forschungszentrum Juelich found that brain asymmetry varied across individuals due to different cognitive demands. The findings revealed a genetic basis for asymmetry in functional organization, and researchers suspect asymmetry is associated with higher order thinking in humans.

Lateralization is the tendency for brain regions to process certain functions more in the left or right hemisphere. It can vary across individuals, and neurotypical people differ in asymmetry. Brain asymmetry variance can indicate certain intellectual and psychological conditions. For example, a lack of left asymmetry of certain language areas is associated with dyslexia. Previous studies have found that insufficient brain lateralization may play a role in diseases such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. 

The researchers investigated these connections using two databases. One database contained human brain scans, and the other contained brain scans of 19 macaque monkeys. They compared monozygotic twins, dizygotic twins, and unrelated individuals, and determined how siblings differ from each other. This information identified environmental influences that shape connections. Examining brain function of both humans and monkeys identified which differences may have developed through evolution. Low-dimensional, functional brain connectivity organization showed the extent to which separate brain regions can work together. Researchers assessed this organizational feature in each side of the brain and calculated the asymmetry index.

The researchers found that individual differences in these functional arrangements were mainly influenced by genetic factors. However, some asymmetry is shaped by the person’s experience. One key finding is that human brains are more asymmetrical than the brains of monkeys. Lead author Bin Wan explained that “It is likely that the observed functional asymmetry reflects the interplay of both genetic and non-genetic effects derived from personal experiences." Future research studies will explore the role of genetic and environmental factors in brain asymmetry.

Sources: eLife, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

 

About the Author
BA and MA in English, MPS in Human Relations, and Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
You May Also Like
AUG 26, 2022
Plants & Animals
Ultra-processed Foods Have a Significant Impact on Mental Health
AUG 26, 2022
Ultra-processed Foods Have a Significant Impact on Mental Health
Processed foods are a ubiquitous part of Western diets. The vast majority of packaged foods in the U.S. are processed. I ...
SEP 04, 2022
Neuroscience
Brainwaves Sync When Working Together Remotely
SEP 04, 2022
Brainwaves Sync When Working Together Remotely
Brains sync when collaborating on a task- even when they are not physically together. The corresponding study was publis ...
SEP 11, 2022
Neuroscience
A Kind of 'Second Synapse' on Neurons - The Cilium
SEP 11, 2022
A Kind of 'Second Synapse' on Neurons - The Cilium
Nearly every type of cell in the human body carries a little antenna-like structure called a cilium, which can serve var ...
SEP 15, 2022
Cardiology
Lack of Sleep Increases Our Health Risks and Lowers Our Empathy
SEP 15, 2022
Lack of Sleep Increases Our Health Risks and Lowers Our Empathy
Lack of sleep is correlated with cardiovascular disease, depression, and more: it also makes us more selfish.
SEP 28, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Microprotein Mutations May Significantly Increase Alzheimer's Risk
SEP 28, 2022
Microprotein Mutations May Significantly Increase Alzheimer's Risk
The mitochondrion, commonly called the powerhouse of the cell, might be one of the best known organelles. This special o ...
SEP 30, 2022
Health & Medicine
Financial Incentive Influences Decision to Help for Less Empathic Individuals
SEP 30, 2022
Financial Incentive Influences Decision to Help for Less Empathic Individuals
A highly empathic person tends to help a person in need willingly, but what about those individuals with low empathy? A ...
Loading Comments...