Prefrontal white matter volume is disproportionately larger in humans than in other primates.

Bibliographic Collection: 
MOCA Reference, APE
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Schoenemann, P Thomas; Sheehan, Michael J; Glotzer, L Daniel
Year of Publication: 2005
Journal: Nat Neurosci
Volume: 8
Issue: 2
Pagination: 242-52
Date Published: 2005 Feb
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1097-6256
Keywords: Animals, Biological Evolution, Brain, Brain Mapping, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Prefrontal Cortex, Primates, Regression Analysis, Sex Factors, Species Specificity

Determining how the human brain differs from nonhuman primate brains is central to understanding human behavioral evolution. There is currently dispute over whether the prefrontal cortex, which mediates evolutionarily interesting behaviors, has increased disproportionately. Using magnetic resonance imaging brain scans from 11 primate species, we measured gray, white and total volumes for both prefrontal and the entire cerebrum on each specimen (n = 46). In relative terms, prefrontal white matter shows the largest difference between human and nonhuman, whereas gray matter shows no significant difference. This suggests that connectional elaboration (as gauged by white matter volume) played a key role in human brain evolution.

DOI: 10.1038/nn1394
Alternate Journal: Nat. Neurosci.