Regional and hemispheric variation in cortical thickness in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

J Neurosci. 2013 Mar 20;33(12):5241-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2996-12.2013.


Recent advances in structural magnetic resonance imaging technology and analysis now allows for accurate in vivo measurement of cortical thickness, an important aspect of cortical organization that has historically only been conducted on postmortem brains. In this study, for the first time, we examined regional and lateralized cortical thickness in a sample of 71 chimpanzees for comparison with previously reported findings in humans. We also measured gray and white matter volumes for each subject. The results indicated that chimpanzees showed significant regional variation in cortical thickness with lower values in primary motor and sensory cortex compared with association cortex. Furthermore, chimpanzees showed significant rightward asymmetries in cortical thickness for a number of regions of interest throughout the cortex and leftward asymmetries in white but not gray matter volume. We also found that total and region-specific cortical thickness was significantly negatively correlated with white matter volume. Thus, chimpanzees with greater white matter volumes had thinner cortical thickness. The collective findings are discussed within the context of previous findings in humans and theories on the evolution of cortical organization and lateralization in primates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Pan troglodytes / anatomy & histology*
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology