Asymmetry in the Central Nervous System: A Clinical Neuroscience Perspective

Annakarina Mundorf, Jutta Peterburs, Sebastian Ocklenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent large-scale neuroimaging studies suggest that most parts of the human brain show structural differences between the left and the right hemisphere. Such structural hemispheric asymmetries have been reported for both cortical and subcortical structures. Interestingly, many neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders have been associated with altered functional hemispheric asymmetries. However, findings concerning the relation between structural hemispheric asymmetries and disorders have largely been inconsistent, both within specific disorders as well as between disorders. In the present review, we compare structural asymmetries from a clinical neuroscience perspective across different disorders. We focus especially on recent large-scale neuroimaging studies, to concentrate on replicable effects. With the notable exception of major depressive disorder, all reviewed disorders were associated with distinct patterns of alterations in structural hemispheric asymmetries. While autism spectrum disorder was associated with altered structural hemispheric asymmetries in a broader range of brain areas, most other disorders were linked to more specific alterations in brain areas related to cognitive functions that have been associated with the symptomology of these disorders. The implications of these findings are highlighted in the context of transdiagnostic approaches to psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number733898
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
StatePublished - Dec 14 2021


  • brain structure
  • clinical neuroscience
  • hemispheric asymmetry
  • laterality
  • mental health
  • psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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