No relative expansion of the number of prefrontal neurons in primate and human evolution

No relative expansion of the number of prefrontal neurons in primate and human evolution

Author Gabi, Mariana Google Scholar
Neves, Kleber Google Scholar
Masseron, Carolinne Google Scholar
Ribeiro, Pedro F. M. Google Scholar
Ventura-Antunes, Lissa Google Scholar
Torres, Laila Autor UNIFESP Google Scholar
Mota, Bruno Google Scholar
Kaas, Jon H. Google Scholar
Herculano-Houzel, Suzana Google Scholar
Abstract Human evolution is widely thought to have involved a particular expansion of prefrontal cortex. This popular notion has recently been challenged, although controversies remain. Here we show that the prefrontal region of both human and nonhuman primates holds about 8% of cortical neurons, with no clear difference across humans and other primates in the distribution of cortical neurons or white matter cells along the anteroposterior axis. Further, we find that the volumes of human prefrontal gray and white matter match the expected volumes for the number of neurons in the gray matter and for the number of other cells in the white matter compared with other primate species. These results indicate that prefrontal cortical expansion in human evolution happened along the same allometric trajectory as for other primate species, without modification of the distribution of neurons across its surface or of the volume of the underlying white matter. We thus propose that the most distinctive feature of the human prefrontal cortex is its absolute number of neurons, not its relative volume.
Keywords cortical expansion
number of neurons
prefrontal cortex
Language English
Sponsor National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq)
Research Support Foundation of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ)
Ministry of Science and Technology/National Institutes of Science and Technology (MCT/INCT)
James McDonnell Foundation
Mathers Foundation
Date 2016
Published in Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America. Washington, v. 113, n. 34, p. 9617-9622, 2016.
ISSN 0027-8424 (Sherpa/Romeo, impact factor)
Publisher Natl Acad Sciences
Extent 9617-9622
Access rights Closed access
Type Article
Web of Science ID WOS:000381860800065

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