Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 223, Issue 9, pp 4125–4152 | Cite as

Morphological patterns and spatial probability maps of two defining sulci of the posterior ventrolateral frontal cortex of the human brain: the sulcus diagonalis and the anterior ascending ramus of the lateral fissure

  • Trisanna Sprung-Much
  • Michael Petrides
Original Article


The sulcus diagonalis (ds) and the anterior ascending ramus of the lateral fissure (aalf) are two defining sulci of the posterior ventrolateral frontal cortex, which is also known as the anterior language region in the language dominant hemisphere. The aalf extends dorsally from the lateral fissure, separating the pars opercularis from the pars triangularis of the inferior frontal gyrus. The ds, which is a relatively vertical sulcus, is found within the pars opercularis. Given the proximity and similar orientation of these two sulci, it can be difficult to identify them properly. The present study provides a means of differentiating these two sulci accurately using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Voxels within the ds and the aalf were labeled in 40 in vivo MRI volumes (1.5 T) that had been linearly registered to the Montreal Neurological Institute stereotaxic space to examine the morphological patterns of these two sulci and classify these patterns based on relations with neighboring sulci. The morphological variability and spatial extent of each sulcus was then quantified in the form of volumetric and surface spatial probability maps. The ds, a rather superficial sulcus, could be identified in 51.25% of hemispheres. The aalf, on the other hand, could be identified in 96.25% of hemispheres and was observed to extend medially, deep below the surface of the hemisphere, to reach the circular sulcus of the insula. Understanding the details of the sulcal morphology of this region, which, in the language dominant left hemisphere, constitutes Broca’s area, is crucial to functional and structural neuroimaging studies investigating language.


Sulcus diagonalis Anterior ascending ramus of the lateral fissure Ventrolateral frontal cortex Magnetic resonance imaging Sulcal morphology Spatial probability map 



We thank Philip Novosad for technical assistance with Matlab and MINC Toolkit, as well for providing helpful feedback during manuscript revision. We also thank Guy Sprung and Dr. Sonja Huntgeburth for assistance in translating from German pertinent sections of Eberstaller’s manuscript, and Dr. Rhonda Amsel for statistical advice.


This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Foundation Grant FDN-143212 awarded to M. Petrides and a Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé scholarship awarded to T. Sprung-Much.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

The authors declare that they have no competing financial or non-financial interests. All research was conducted in compliance with ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology and NeurosurgeryMontreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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