Neuroscience

The human prefrontal cortex is special

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Science  22 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6395, pp. 1311-1312
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6395.1311-g

The size and surface area of the cerebral cortex varies dramatically across mammals. It is well known that the human cortex is by far the largest among primates. However, there is no agreement about whether the human prefrontal cortex is larger, in relative terms, than those of other primates. Donahue et al. compared structural brain scan datasets from humans, chimpanzees, and macaques. They found a greater proportion of prefrontal cortex gray matter volume in humans than in the two nonhuman primate species, and they observed an even greater difference between species for white matter volume in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the association cortex, which is implicated in higher cognition and affect, is thus disproportionately large in humans relative to other primates.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, E5183 (2018).

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