Sexual dimorphism within brain regions controlling speech production

Laura De Lima Xavier, Sandra Hanekamp, Kristina Simonyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Neural processing of speech production has been traditionally attributed to the left hemisphere. However, it remains unclear if there are structural bases for speech functional lateralization and if these may be partially explained by sexual dimorphism of cortical morphology. We used a combination of high-resolution MRI and speech-production functional MRI to examine cortical thickness of brain regions involved in speech control in healthy males and females. We identified greater cortical thickness of the left Heschl's gyrus in females compared to males. Additionally, rightward asymmetry of the supramarginal gyrus and leftward asymmetry of the precentral gyrus were found within both male and female groups. Sexual dimorphism of the Heschl's gyrus may underlie known differences in auditory processing for speech production between males and females, whereas findings of asymmetries within cortical areas involved in speech motor execution and planning may contribute to the hemispheric localization of functional activity and connectivity of these regions within the speech production network. Our findings highlight the importance of consideration of sex as a biological variable in studies on neural correlates of speech control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number795
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortical thickness
  • FMRI
  • Healthy subjects
  • Sensorimotor network
  • Speech control


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