Anterior and posterior commissures in agenesis of the corpus callosum: alternative pathways for attention processes?

Vanessa Siffredi, Amanda G. Wood, Richard Leventer, Maarten Vaessen, Alissandra Mcilroy, Vicki Anderson, Patrik Vuilleumier, Megan M. Spencer-smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Developmental absence (agenesis) of the corpus callosum (AgCC) is a congenital brain malformation resulting from disruption of corpus callosum formation, a structure that is crucial for the transfer and integration of information, including attention processes, across the brain. This study aimed to investigate previously proposed candidates for alternative inter-hemispheric pathways in AgCC by examining (1) white matter volume and microstructure of the anterior and posterior commissures in children with AgCC compared to typically developing controls (TDC), and (2) in children with AgCC, examine the associations of white matter volume and microstructure of the anterior and posterior commissures and any remaining corpus callosum with attention processes. Participants were 21 children with AgCC (13 complete, 8 partial) recruited from The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, and 30 TDC aged 8–17 years. T1-and diffusion-weighted MR sequences were used to calculate volume and microstructural parameters. Neuropsychological testing assessed attention processes. We found the anterior commissure was significantly larger in volume in children with AgCC than TDC (p = .027), with reduced mean FA (p = .001) associated with increased mean RD (p < .001). In children with AgCC, we found microstructural properties of the anterior commissure associated with attentional processes, specifically, mean FA of the anterior commissure was associated with better divided attention (p = .03), and the association between alerting attention and mean AD and RD was found to be moderated by age (p = .027, p = .008) and the degree of corpus callosum agenesis (p = .025, p = .016). Furthermore, in partial AgCC, larger posterior commissure volume was associated with better orienting attention (p = .035). In conclusion, we provide evidence that the volume and microstructure of the anterior commissure are altered in children with AgCC, and this neuroplastic response might have an influence on attention processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-467
Number of pages14
Early online date23 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


Bibliographical note

© 2019, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Funding: Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program, and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Alain Patry Grant from the Geneva Academic Society. Swiss National Science Foundation Doc.CH scholarship. European Research Council Consolidator Fellowship [682734]. Melbourne Children’s Clinician Scientist Fellowship. Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Practitioner Fellowship.


  • Agenesis of the corpus callosum
  • Alternative inter-hemispheric pathway
  • Anterior and posterior commissures
  • Attention processes
  • Development

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