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Title: Midsagittal brain variation among non-human primates: insights into evolutionary expansion of the human precuneus
Authors: Pereira-Pedro, Ana Sofía
Rilling, James K.
Chen, Xu
Preuss, Todd M.
Bruner, Emiliano
Keywords: Precuneus;Apes;Brain morphology;Geometric morphometrics;Macaques
Issue Date: Nov-2017
Publisher: Karger Publishers
Citation: Brain, Behaviour and Evolution, 2017, 90 (3), 255-263
Abstract: The precuneus is a major element of the superior parietal lobule, positioned on the medial side of the hemisphere and reaching the dorsal surface of the brain. It is a crucial functional region for visuospatial integration, visual imagery, and body coordination. Previously, we argued that the precuneus expanded in recent human evolution, based on a combination of paleontological, comparative, and intraspecific evidence from fossil and modern human endocasts as well as from human and chimpanzee brains. The longitudinal proportions of this region are a major source of anatomical variation among adult humans and, being much larger in Homo sapiens, is the main characteristic differentiating human midsagittal brain morphology from that of our closest living primate relative, the chimpanzee. In the current shape analysis, we examine precuneus variation in non-human primates through landmark-based models, to evaluate the general pattern of variability in non-human primates, and to test whether precuneus proportions are influenced by allometric effects of brain size. Results show that precuneus proportions do not covary with brain size, and that the main difference between monkeys and apes involves a vertical expansion of the frontal and occipital regions in apes. Such differences might reflect differences in brain proportions or differences in cranial architecture. In this sample, precuneus variation is apparently not influenced by phylogenetic or allometric factors, but does vary consistently within species, at least in chimpanzees and macaques. This result further supports the hypothesis that precuneus expansion in modern humans is not merely a consequence of increasing brain size or of allometric scaling, but rather represents a species-specific morphological change in our lineage.
ISSN: 0006-8977
DOI: 10.1159/000481085
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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