Reading and Writing

, Volume 3, Issue 3–4, pp 331–343 | Cite as

Planum temporale asymmetry: In-vivo morphometry affords a new perspective for neuro-behavioral research

  • Helmuth Steinmetz
  • Albert M. Galaburda
Part Two: Neurology/Neuropsychology


High-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) imaging today allows the in vivo quantification of the surface area of the cortex covering the planum temporale and permits assessment of the direction and degree of individual left-right asymmetry of this structure. This methodologic advance is promoting new studies on the biological mechanisms of anatomic and functional lateralization and on the structural accompaniments of disorders such as developmental dyslexia. It is important to stress that studies must agree on the definition and measurement of planum asymmetry, and we review our definition and its justification in the present article.

Data obtained from normal subjects supported the assumption that planum (a)symmetry underlies functional lateralization. Thus, familial sinistrality predicted for symmetry of the planum in all eight left-handers studied. The pattern of planum symmetry in the normals was similar to that found in the post mortem studies of dyslexic individuals. Insofar as hand preference and developmental dyslexia are in part genetically transmitted, we suggest that planum symmetry may represent an inherited condition as well. Further-more, even though planum symmetry is part of the anatomic substrate of developmental dyslexia, it is unlikely that it represents a form of developmental anatomic pathology.


Dyslexia Reading Handedness Laterality Temporal lobe Planum temporale Magnetic resonance imaging 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helmuth Steinmetz
    • 1
  • Albert M. Galaburda
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorf 1Germany
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Neurological UnitBeth Israel HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Charles A. Dana Research InstituteBeth Israel HospitalBostonUSA

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