Corpus Callosum

The linear increases in lobar white matter parallel increases for the major white matter tract in the brain, the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is a bundle of approximately 200 million nerve fibers connecting the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Most of the fibers are myelinated and most connect homologous areas of the cortex. The corpus callosum integrates the activities of the left and right cerebral hemispheres. It combines information from bilateral sensory fields, facilitates memory storage and retrieval, allocates attention and arousal, and enhances language and auditory functions. Efficiency of interhemispheric integration has been linked to creativity and intelligence and becomes more crucial as task difficulty increases. Capacities for these functions improve during childhood and adolescence, making morphologic changes in the corpus callosum during these ages intriguing.

The myelinated fibers of the corpus callosum make it particularly easy to see on midsagittal MR images, which along with its clinical interest have made it a common target of investigations. The corpus callosum is arranged in an approximately topographic manner, with anterior segments containing fibers from the anterior cortical regions, middle segments containing fibers from the middle cortical regions, and so on. Progression of corpus callosum development continues throughout adolescence, and corpus callosum anomalies have been reported in several childhood disorders. Sexual dimorphism of the corpus callosum remains a controversial topic, with some reports indicating sex differences and many others no differences.

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