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Anatomical and Functional Specialization
of the Human Cerebral Hemispheres

Qing CAI

The Institute of Cognitive Science
East China Normal University


Hemispheric specialization is a common finding in the human being. Cognitive functions like language preferentially activate the left hemisphere (LH). Right hemisphere (RH) speech dominance is rare but can be found with some effort in non-clinical populations, especially in left-handers. We compared neural correlates of different cognitive functions in typical LH and atypical RH language dominant subjects, and found that (1) The complementary specialization for language production and visuo-spatial attention is not just a statistical phenomenon (i.e. different functions lateralize independently) but has a causal origin (i.e. the lateralization of one function causes the opposite lateralization of the other, or both are driven by a third function), which probably derives from a longstanding evolutionary origin (Cai et al., 2013); (2) There is a co-lateralized and common functional network underlying language production and praxis, which shed light on the close relationship between language and tool-using (Vingerhoets et al., 2013); (3) Intriguingly, the morphometric results showed that functional language lateralization is only subtly linked to gross anatomical asymmetry (Greve et al., 2013).

Short Bio

Qing Cai received her bachelor in Biotechnology from Shanghai Jiaotong University, and Ph.D in Cognitive Sciences from Lyon University, France. Dr. Qing Cai worked in L2C2 (Laboratory of language, brian and cognition), CNRS during her Ph.D., and then in Ghent University, Belgium and in INSERM Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, France as post-doc fellow. Her main research interests include but are not limited to: (1) the relationship between cerebral lateralization of cognitive functions and anatomical asymmetry; (2) Functional brain networks in resting state and in task-dependent settings, (3) the relationship between language tasks and non-language tasks including visuo-spatial attention, spatial frequency information processing, cognitive control, etc., and (4) the development of language and numerical abilities in children. 

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Last updated: December 14, 2013