Monkey to human comparative anatomy of the frontal lobe association tracts

Cortex. 2012 Jan;48(1):82-96. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2011.10.001. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


The greater expansion of the frontal lobes along the phylogeny scale has been interpreted as the signature of evolutionary changes underlying higher cognitive abilities in humans functions in humans. However, it is unknown how an increase in number of gyri, sulci and cortical areas in the frontal lobe have coincided with a parallel increase in connectivity. Here, using advanced tractography based on spherical deconvolution, we produced an atlas of human frontal association connections that we compared with axonal tracing studies of the monkey brain. We report several similarities between human and monkey in the cingulum, uncinate, superior longitudinal fasciculus, frontal aslant tract and orbito-polar tract. These similarities suggest to preserved functions across anthropoids. In addition, we found major differences in the arcuate fasciculus and the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus. These differences indicate possible evolutionary changes in the connectional anatomy of the frontal lobes underlying unique human abilities.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Atlases as Topic
  • Axons / physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Brain Mapping
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Species Specificity