The planum temporale (PT) is the bank of tissue that lies posterior to Heschl's gyrus and is considered a key brain region involved in language and speech in the human brain. In the human brain, both the surface area and grey matter volume of the PT is larger in the left compared to right hemisphere in approximately 2/3rds of individuals, particularly among right-handed individuals. Here we examined whether chimpanzees show asymmetries in the PT for grey matter volume and surface area in a sample of 103 chimpanzees from magnetic resonance images. The results indicated that, overall, the chimpanzees showed population-level leftward asymmetries for both surface area and grey matter volumes. Furthermore, chimpanzees that prefer to gesture with their right-handed had significantly greater leftward grey matter asymmetries compared to ambiguously- and left-handed apes. When compared to previously published data in humans, the direction and magnitude of PT grey matter asymmetries were similar between humans and apes; however, for the surface area measures, the human showed more pronounced leftward asymmetries. These results suggest that leftward asymmetries in the PT were present in the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans.
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