Relationship between manual dexterity and left–right asymmetry of anatomical and functional properties of corticofugal tracts revealed by T2-weighted brain images

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The corticofugal tracts (CFT) are key agents of upper limb motor function. Although the tracts form high-intensity regions relative to surrounding tissue in T2-weighted magnetic resonance images (T2WI), the precise relations of signal intensities of the left and right CFT regions to hand function are unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the different signal intensities between the left and right CFT signify clinically important differences of hand motor function. Eleven right-handed and eleven left-handed healthy volunteers participated in the study. Based on horizontal T2WI estimates, we confirmed the relationship between the signal intensity ratios of the peak values of each CFT in the posterior limbs of the internal capsules (right CFT vs. left CFT). The ratios included the asymmetry indices of the hand motor functions, including grip and pinch strength, as well as the target test (TT) that expressed the speed and accuracy of hitting a target ([right-hand score − left-hand score]/[right-hand score + left-hand score]), using simple linear regression. The signal intensity ratios of each CFT structure maintained significant linear relations with the asymmetry index of the speed (R2 = 0.493, P = 0.0003) and accuracy (R2 = 0.348, P = 0.004) of the TT. We found no significant association between left and right CFT structures for grip or pinch strengths. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the different signal intensities of the left and right CFT images captured by T2WI serve as biological markers that reflect the dominance of manual dexterity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2738
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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