Degradation of white matter fibers can affect the transmission of signals in brain circuits that normally enable integration of highly lateralized visual and motor processes. Here, we used diffusion tensor imaging tractography in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the specific contributions of interhemispheric and intrahemispheric white matter fibers to functional measures of hemispheric transfer and parallel information processing using bilateral and unilateral left and right visual field stimulation in normal and compromised systems. In healthy adults, a greater degree of bilateral processing advantage with the left (nondominant) hand correlated with higher integrity of callosal fibers connecting occipital cortices, whereas less unilateral processing advantage with the right hand correlated with higher integrity of left-hemispheric posterior cingulate fibers. In contrast, alcoholics who have compromised callosal integrity showed less bilateral processing advantage than controls when responding with the left hand and greater unilateral processing advantage when responding with the right hand. We also found degraded left posterior cingulate and posterior callosal fibers in chronic alcoholics, which is consistent with functional imaging results of less left posterior cingulate and extrastriate cortex activation in alcoholics than controls when processing bilateral compared with unilateral visual field stimulation. Together, our results demonstrated that interhemispheric and intrahemispheric white matter fiber pathways mediate visuomotor integration asymmetrically and that subtle white matter fiber degradation in alcoholism attenuated the normal pattern of hemispheric asymmetry, which may have ramifications for the efficiency of visual information processing and fast response execution.
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