Brain asymmetry: Evolution

A. W. Toga, K. L. Narr, P. M. Thompson, E. Luders

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The anatomy and functional layout of the brain are organized asymmetrically, with hemispheric specializations for language and motor functioning. As a consequence, the pattern of asymmetries varies with handedness and language localization, but also with gender and disease processes. Differing neurodevelopmental events structure the two hemispheres, where a number of modulating factors, including genetic determination, fetal orientation, hormones, and functional adaptations contribute to the degree and direction of cerebral asymmetry. The massive evolutionary expansion of the brain and/or the evolutionary development of language in humans are possibly driving forces in the phylogeny of hemispheric specialization. Notwithstanding, functional and structural asymmetries have also been identified in nonhuman primates and in many other species.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Neuroscience
PublisherElsevier Ltd.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780080450469
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral dominance
  • Cortex
  • Evolution
  • Handedness
  • Hemispheres
  • Hemispheric specialization
  • Imaging
  • Language
  • Lateralization
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Petalia
  • Planum temporale
  • Shape
  • Sylvian fissure
  • Torque


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