A tale of two gradients: Differences between the left and right hemispheres predict semantic cognition and visual reasoning
del Jesus Gonzalez Alam TR., Mckeown BLA., Gao Z., Bernhardt B., de Wael RV., Margulies DS., Smallwood J., Jefferies E.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Decomposition of whole-brain functional connectivity patterns reveals a principal gradient that captures the separation of sensorimotor cortex from heteromodal regions in the default mode network (DMN); this gradient captures the systematic order of networks on the cortical surface. Functional homotopy is strongest in sensorimotor areas, and weakest in heteromodal cortices, suggesting there may be differences between the left and right hemispheres (LH/RH) in the principal gradient, especially towards its apex. This study characterised hemispheric differences in the position of large-scale cortical networks along the principal gradient, and their functional significance. We collected resting-state fMRI and semantic and non-verbal reasoning task performance in 175+ healthy volunteers. We then extracted the principal gradient of connectivity for each participant and tested which networks showed significant hemispheric differences in gradient value. We investigated the functional associations of these differences by regressing participants’ behavioural efficiency in tasks outside the scanner against their interhemispheric gradient difference for each network. LH showed a higher overall principal gradient value, consistent with its role in heteromodal semantic cognition. One frontotemporal control subnetwork was linked to individual differences in semantic cognition: when it was nearer heteromodal DMN on the principal gradient in LH, participants showed more efficient semantic retrieval. In contrast, when a dorsal attention subnetwork was closer to the heteromodal end of the principal gradient in RH, participants showed better visual reasoning. Lateralization of function may reflect differences in connectivity between control and heteromodal regions in LH, and attention and visual regions in RH.</jats:p>