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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00898

Sex differences in white matter pathways related to language ability

 Minyoung Jung1, 2, 3*,  Maria Mody4, Toru Fujioka5, Yukari Kimura3,  Hidehiko Okazawa2 and  Hirotaka Kosaka1*
  • 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Japan
  • 2Biomedical Imaging Research Center, University of Fukui, Japan
  • 3Research Center for Child Mental Development, University of Fukui, Japan
  • 4Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard Medical School, United States
  • 5School of Education, University of Fukui, Japan

Evidence from functional imaging studies points to a role for gender in language ability. However, recent studies suggest that sex differences in the neural basis of language are still unclear, reflecting a complex interaction between sex and language ability.
We used diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging and global probabilistic tractography to investigate white matter pathways between 32 male and 35 age- and IQ-matched female adult participants in relation to their verbal abilities. Males showed higher fractional anisotropy (FA) in the left anterior thalamic radiations (ATR), right cingulum-angular bundle, right corticospinal tract, bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculus-temporal terminations, bilateral uncinate fasciculus (UNC), and corpus callosum-forceps minor when compared with the female group. In contrast, females showed higher radial diffusivity (RD) in the left ATR and left UNC when compared to the male group. The relationship between white matter metrics and verbal ability also differed across the two groups: a negative correlation between verbal comprehension index (VCI) and FA as well as axial diffusivity (AD) in left cingulum-cingulate gyrus (CCG) supracallosal bundle in males but not in females; a negative correlation between verbal IQ and FA in the right corticospinal tract (CST), and a positive correlation between verbal comprehension index and RD in corpus callosum-forceps minor in the female but not in the male group. A direct comparison of these correlation coefficients yielded significant difference between the groups for the VCI-AD and VIQ -FA associations. The findings may reflect sex difference in white matter related to language ability.

Keywords: White matter pathways, Language, sex difference, Cingulum-cingulate gyrus supracallosal bundle, corticospinal tract, Corpus Callosum, forceps minor

Received: 14 May 2019; Accepted: 12 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Jung, Mody, Fujioka, Kimura, Okazawa and Kosaka. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Mx. Minyoung Jung, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, 910-1193, Fukui, Japan, jungbackho22@gmail.com
Mx. Hirotaka Kosaka, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui, Fukui, 910-1193, Fukui, Japan, hirotaka@u-fukui.ac.jp