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Published December 2, 2022 | public
Journal Article

Dissociable brain structural asymmetry patterns reveal unique phenome-wide profiles


Broca reported ~150 years ago that particular lesions of the left hemisphere impair speech. Since then, other brain regions have been reported to show lateralized structure and function. Yet, studies of brain asymmetry have limited their focus to pairwise comparisons between homologous regions. Here, we characterized separable whole-brain asymmetry patterns in grey and white matter structure from n = 37,441 UK Biobank participants. By pooling information on left–right shifts underlying whole-brain structure, we deconvolved signatures of brain asymmetry that are spatially distributed rather than locally constrained. Classically asymmetric regions turned out to belong to more than one asymmetry pattern. Instead of a single dominant signature, we discovered complementary asymmetry patterns that contributed similarly to whole-brain asymmetry at the population level. These asymmetry patterns were associated with unique collections of phenotypes, ranging from early lifestyle factors to demographic status to mental health indicators.

Additional Information

This study was supported by the Brain Canada Foundation, through the Canada Brain Research Fund, with the financial support of Health Canada, National Institutes of Health (grant nos. NIH R01 AG068563A and NIH R01 R01DA053301-01A1 to D.B.), the Canadian Institute of Health Research (grant nos. CIHR 438531 and CIHR 470425 to D.B.), the Healthy Brains Healthy Lives initiative (Canada First Research Excellence fund to D.B.), Google (Research Award, Teaching Award to D.B.) and by the CIFAR Artificial Intelligence Chairs programme (Canada Institute for Advanced Research to D.B.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Additional details

August 22, 2023
December 22, 2023