The arcuate fasciculus (AF) in the human brain has asymmetric structural properties. However, the topographic organization of the asymmetric AF projections to the cortex and its relevance to cortical function remain unclear. Here we mapped the posterior projections of the human AF in the inferior parietal and lateral temporal cortices using surface-based structural connectivity analysis based on diffusion MRI and investigated their hemispheric differences. We then performed the cross-modal comparison with functional connectivity based on resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) and task-related cortical activation based on fMRI using a semantic classification task of single words. Structural connectivity analysis showed that the left AF connecting to Broca's area predominantly projected in the lateral temporal cortex extending from the posterior superior temporal gyrus to the mid part of the superior temporal sulcus and the middle temporal gyrus, whereas the right AF connecting to the right homolog of Broca's area predominantly projected to the inferior parietal cortex extending from the mid part of the supramarginal gyrus to the anterior part of the angular gyrus. The left-lateralized projection regions of the AF in the left temporal cortex had asymmetric functional connectivity with Broca's area, indicating structure-function concordance through the AF. During the language task, left-lateralized cortical activation was observed. Among them, the brain responses in the temporal cortex and Broca's area that were connected through the left-lateralized AF pathway were specifically correlated across subjects. These results suggest that the human left AF, which structurally and functionally connects the mid temporal cortex and Broca's area in asymmetrical fashion, coordinates the cortical activity in these remote cortices during a semantic decision task. The unique feature of the left AF is discussed in the context of the human capacity for language.
BACKGROUND: Schizophrenia is characterized by small reductions in cortical gray matter volume, particularly in the temporal and prefrontal cortices. The question of whether cortical thickness is reduced in schizophrenia has not been addressed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. Our objectives were to test the hypothesis that cortical thinning in patients with schizophrenia (relative to control subjects) is greater in temporal and prefrontal regions of interest (ROIs) than in control ROIs (superior parietal, calcarine, postcentral, central, and precentral cortices), and to obtain an unbiased estimate of the distribution of cortical thinning in patients (relative to controls) by constructing mean and statistical cortical thickness difference maps. METHODS: Participants included 33 right-handed outpatients receiving medication and meeting DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia and 32 healthy volunteers, matched on age and parental socioeconomic status. After high-resolution MRI scans, models of the gray-white and pial surfaces were generated for each individual's cortex, and the distance between these 2 surfaces was used to compute cortical thickness. A surface-based averaging technique that aligned the main cortical folds across individuals allowed between-group comparisons of thickness within ROIs, and at multiple, uniformly sampled loci across the cortical ribbon. RESULTS: Relative to controls, patients showed greater cortical thinning in temporal-prefrontal ROIs than in control ROIs, as revealed by a significant (P<.009) interaction between group and region type. Cortical thickness difference maps revealed significant (at P<.05, corrected) thinning within the orbitofrontal cortices bilaterally; the inferior frontal, inferior temporal, and occipitotemporal cortices on the left; and within the medial temporal and medial frontal cortices on the right. Superior parietal and primary somatosensory and motor cortices were relatively spared, even at subthreshold significance levels. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with chronic schizophrenia showed widespread cortical thinning that particularly affected the prefrontal and temporal cortices. This thinning might reflect underlying neuropathological abnormalities in cortical structure.