Humans and great apes share a large frontal cortex

  title={Humans and great apes share a large frontal cortex},
  author={Katerina Semendeferi and A. Lu and Natalie M. Schenker and Hanna Damasio},
  journal={Nature Neuroscience},
Some of the outstanding cognitive capabilities of humans are commonly attributed to a disproportionate enlargement of the human frontal lobe during evolution. This claim is based primarily on comparisons between the brains of humans and of other primates, to the exclusion of most great apes. We compared the relative size of the frontal cortices in living specimens of several primate species, including all extant hominoids, using magnetic resonance imaging. Human frontal cortices were not… 
The Human Brain
Quantitative assessment of prefrontal cortex in humans relative to nonhuman primates
Using MRI-derived cortical surfaces of many individual humans, chimpanzees, and macaques, two parcellation-based PFC delineations based on cytoarchitecture and function are presented and a previously used morphological surrogate substantially underestimates PFC extent, especially in humans.
Human and nonhuman primate brains: Are they allometrically scaled versions of the same design?
Allometric analyses of brain structure sizes across the primate order demonstrate that human, ape, and other anthropoid brains are not simply allometrically scaled versions of the same generalized
Primate Prefrontal Cortex Evolution: Human Brains Are the Extreme of a Lateralized Ape Trend
Results reveal different scaling coefficients in the left versus right prefrontal hemisphere, suggest that the primary factor underlying the evolution of primate brain architecture is left hemispheric prefrontal hyperscaling, and indicate that humans are the extreme of a left prefrontal ape specialization in relative white to grey matter volume.
A Quantitative Assessment of Prefrontal Cortex in Humans Relative to Nonhuman Primates
Two parcellation-based PFC delineations based on cytoarchitecture and function are presented and it is shown that a previously used morphological surrogate (cortex anterior to the genu of the corpus callosum) substantially underestimates PFC extent, especially in humans.
Human frontal lobes are not relatively large
The size of human frontal lobes, and of specific frontal regions, is as expected relative to the size of other brain structures, and the search for the neural basis of human cognitive uniqueness should focus less on the frontal lobe in isolation and more on distributed neural networks.
A natural history of the frontal cortex
  • P. Vernier
  • Biology, Psychology
    Revue Neurologique
  • 2018
Prefrontal white matter volume is disproportionately larger in humans than in other primates
Using magnetic resonance imaging brain scans from 11 primate species, gray, white and total volumes for both prefrontal and the entire cerebrum on each specimen suggest that connectional elaboration played a key role in human brain evolution.


A neuronal morphologic type unique to humans and great apes.
The existence and distribution of an unusual type of projection neuron, a large, spindle-shaped cell, in layer Vb of the anterior cingulate cortex of pongids and hominids is reported, which suggests some of the differential neuronal susceptibility that occurs in the human brain in the course of age-related dementing illnesses may have appeared only recently during primate evolution.
Limbic frontal cortex in hominoids: a comparative study of area 13.
Differences in the organization and size of individual cortical areas involved in emotional reactions and social behavior can be related to behavioral specializations of each hominoid and to the evolution of emotions in hominids.
Prefrontal cortex in humans and apes: a comparative study of area 10.
The human brain is larger relative to the rest of the brain than it is in the apes, and its supragranular layers have more space available for connections with other higher-order association areas, which suggests that the neural substrates supporting cognitive functions associated with this part of the cortex enlarged and became specialized during hominid evolution.
The human pattern of gyrification in the cerebral cortex
SummaryThe degree of cortical folding found in adult human brains has been analyzed using a gyrification index (GI). This parameter permits the description of a mean value for the whole brain, but
Morphological differences between minicolumns in human and nonhuman primate cortex.
This analysis distinguished minicolumns in the human cortex from those of the other nonhuman primates, and strong evidence showed reorganization in this area of the human brain.
Linked regularities in the development and evolution of mammalian brains.
Analysis of data collected on 131 species of primates, bats, and insectivores showed that the sizes of brain components, from medulla to forebrain, are highly predictable from absolute brain size by
The evolution of the frontal lobes: a volumetric analysis based on three-dimensional reconstructions of magnetic resonance scans of human and ape brains.
The overall volume of the frontal lobe in hominids enlarged in absolute size along with the rest of the brain, but did not become relatively larger after the split of the human line from the ancestral African hominoid stock.
The brain and its main anatomical subdivisions in living hominoids using magnetic resonance imaging.
It is parsimonious to suggest that the relative size of the whole of the frontal lobe has not changed significantly during hominid evolution in the Plio-Pleistocene.
A universal scaling law between gray matter and white matter of cerebral cortex.
  • K. Zhang, T. Sejnowski
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2000
The predicted power law with an exponent of 4/3 minus a small correction for the thickness of the cortex accurately accounts for empirical data spanning several orders of magnitude in brain sizes for various mammalian species, including human and nonhuman primates.
Evolutionary radiations and convergences in the structural organization of mammalian brains
It is concluded that within orders, mosaic brain organization is caused by selective adaptation, whereas between orders it suggests an interplay between selection and constraints.