Connects the main part of the cortex areas of the two cerebral hemispheres with each other. The brain beam consists of 300 - 400 million nerve fibers that coordinate the activities in the two hemispheres.
The cerebral beam can be divided into four consecutive sections counted from front to back:
1/ Beak (rostrum corporis callosi)
2/ The knee (Genu Corp.Call.)
3/ The trunk (Truncus Corp.Call.)
4/ rear end (splenium corp.call.)
Statistical calculations of the nerve fibre count in the brain beam are considered to show a greater number of filaments in women compared to men. However, the claim is somewhat controversial, as the following collection of abstracts shows.
Aboitiz F, Scheibel AB, Zaidel E. Morphometry of the Sylvian fissure and the corpus callosum, with emphasis on sex differences. Brain. 1992 Oct;115 ( Pt 5):1521-41.
Abstract. The relationship between anatomical asymmetries in the perisylvian region and the sizes of different regions of the corpus callosum was investigated post-mortem in 40 brains of right-handed hospital admissions (20 males, 20 females) with no cortical involvement. There were no sex differences either in anatomical asymmetries or in regional size of the callosum. There was a negative correlation between the absolute value of Sylvian fissure (planum temporale) asymmetries and the size of the isthmus in males but not in females. Further, there was a significant negative correlation between the size of the Sylvian fissure (or planum temporale) and the size of the callosal mid-body in males but not in females. There was no correlation between the asymmetry of the planum temporale magnitude of left-right and total size of the planum (left+right). These findings constrain theories about the ontogenesis of hemispheric specialization through changes in callosal connectivity and about sex differences in interhemispheric organization.
Dorion, A.A. et al. Hemispheric assymetry and corpus callosum morphometry: a magnetic resonance imaging study. Neurosci Res. 2000 Jan;36(1):9-13.
Abstract. Previous post-mortem studies (Aboitiz, F., Scheibel, A.B., Fisher, R.S., Zaidel, E., 1992. Brain Res. 598, 154-161 and Aboitiz, F., Scheibel, A.B., Zaidel, E., 1992. Brain 115, 1521-1541) have shown an inverse association between asymmetry in perisylvian areas and the size of a specific segment, the isthmus, of the corpus callosum (CC) in males. The purpose of this work was to study in vivo the association between hemispheric asymmetry and the total size of the CC in 35 right-handed subjects (16 males, 19 females; mean age 24.9 +/- 3.9). An MRI scan was performed for each subject. The area of the right (RH) and left (LH) hemispheres were measured from images in the sagittal plane and the area of the CC from images in the mid-sagittal plane. The index of hemispheric asymmetry was absolute value((LH - RH)/[(LH + RH)/2]). There was a negative correlation between the absolute value of hemispheric asymmetry and the size of the CC in males (r = -0.55, P = 0.03) but not in females (r = -0.20, P = 0.42). These findings, like those of Aboitiz et al. (Aboitiz, F., Scheibel, A.B., Zaidel, E., 1992. Brain 115, 1521-1541), suggest a sex-dependent decrease in interhemispheric connectivity with increasing hemispheric asymmetry.
Habib, M. et al. Effects of handedness and sex on the morphology of the corpus callosum: a study with brain magnetic resonance imaging.
Brain Cogn. 1991 May;16(1):41-61.
Abstract. In view of conflicting data in the existing literature, we examined 53 normal subjects using a handedness questionnaire and callosal area measurements obtained from midsagittal MRI images. The callosum was found to be significantly larger in nonconsistent right-handers (NCRH), especially in its anterior half and especially for males. A significant hand x sex interaction, favoring consistent right-handed (CRH) females, was also found for the posterior midbody, a region known to house interhemispheric fibers connecting the right and left posterior association cortices. These results (1) confirm Witelson's (1985) first findings on postmortem specimens; (2) validate a dichotomy between CRH and NCRH rather than simply considering the writing hand, as was the case in most other similar studies; and (3) suggest that at least two different sex-related--probably hormonal--factors may be acting during the callosal development, one explaining the larger anterior half in NCRH males and the other the larger posterior midbody in CRH females.
Shin, Y. W. Sex differences in the human corpus callosum: diffusion tensor imaging study. Neuroreport. 2005 May 31;16(8):795-8.
Abstract. In order to assess underlying structural differences between the male and female corpus callosum, the fractional anisotropy and volume of the corpus callosum, and also its T1 signal intensity, were measured. The corpus callosum of the 15 normal women and 15 normal men was drawn on the mid-sagittal T1-weighted image, for determining its volume and signal intensity, and this region of interest was projected onto the coregistered fractional anisotropy image, in order to obtain the value for the corpus callosum. We found increased T1 signal intensity and decreased fractional anisotropy in the female corpus callosum, as compared with that of the male. Despite the long-standing debates, the corpus callosum remains a region of sex differences.
Tuncer MC, Hatipoglu ES, Ozates M. Sexual dimorphism and handedness in the human corpus callosum based on magnetic resonance imaging. Surg Radiol Anat. 2005 Aug;27(3):254-9.
Abstract. The corpus callosum (CC) is a major anatomical and functional commissure linking the two cerebral hemispheres. With MR imaging in the sagittal plane, the corpus callosum can be depicted in great detail. Mid-sagittal magnetic resonance images of 80 normal individuals were analyzed to assess whether or not the morphology of the corpus callosum and its parts are related to sex and handedness. The subjects were 40 males (20 right-handers and 20 left-handers) and 40 females (20 right-handers and 20 left-handers). The midsagittal area of the corpus callosum was divided into seven sub-areas using Witelson's method. The most striking morphological changes concerned left-handers, who had larger areas of the anterior body, posterior body and isthmus than right-handers. In addition, right-handed males had larger rostrums and isthmuses than right-handed females. These significantly increased areas were related to handedness in right-handed males. However, left-handed males had larger anterior and posterior bodies than right-handed males. In contrast, there was no significant difference between left-handers and right-handers in females. The areas of the rostrum and posterior body of the corpus callosum increased significantly with sex in males. Moreover, there were no significant age-related changes in the total corpus callosum and sub-areas of the corpus callosum. In conclusion, these anatomical changes in corpus callosum morphology require taking the sexual definition and dominant handedness into consideration.
Witelson, S.F. Hand and sex differences in the isthmus and genu of the human corpus callosum. A postmortem morphological study. Brain. 1989 Jun;112 ( Pt 3):799-835.
Abstract. The midsagittal area of the corpus callosum was measured in its entirety and in seven subdivisions in a sample of 50 brains consecutively obtained from autopsies of individuals who had neuropsychological testing before death. A 12-item test of hand preference was used as an index of the pattern of interhemispheric functional asymmetry. Callosal size was analysed for two factors: hand preference, classified as consistent-right-hand preference (CRH) versus non consistent-right-hand preference, and sex. The group of nCRH (n = 18) was found to have a larger overall callosal area, with the greatest difference occurring in the posterior body segments, especially the isthmus. The isthmus probably includes interhemispheric fibres from posterior parietal and superior temporal cortex which involves cortical regions related to functional asymmetry. The results of variation in callosal morphology are discussed as part of a possible substrate of functional asymmetry and due to variation in axonal elimination in early brain development. Sex differences were found in several aspects of callosal anatomy. (1) The difference between hand groups in the posterior body occurred in interaction with sex:handedness was a factor in callosal size in males (n = 15), but not in females (n = 35). This result is consistent with the general hypothesis of females having less clear lateralization than males. (2) Females did not have a larger overall callosum or a larger splenium, either in absolute size or size proportional to brain weight. The latter measure was considered since callosal area correlated with cerebrum weight (r = 0.48). In contrast, female of both hand groups were found to have a larger proportional isthmus compared to CRH males. (3) Of all callosal regions, only the genu and a part of the anterior body were found to be larger in absolute size in males than females. (4) Callosal size decreased with chronological age in males, but not in females.