The central sulcus (CS) divides the pre- and postcentral gyri along the dorsal-ventral plane of which all motor and sensory functions are topographically organized. The motor-hand area of the precentral gyrus or KNOB has been described as the anatomical substrate of the hand in humans. Given the importance of the hand in primate evolution, here we examine the evolution of the motor-hand area by comparing the relative size and pattern of cortical folding of the CS surface area from magnetic resonance images in 131 primates, including Old World monkeys, apes and humans. We found that humans and great apes have a well-formed motor-hand area that can be seen in the variation in depth of the CS along the dorsal-ventral plane. We further found that great apes have relatively large CS surface areas compared to Old World monkeys. However, relative to great apes, humans have a small motor-hand area in terms of both adjusted and absolute surface areas.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.