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Normative brain size variation and brain shape diversity in humans

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Science  31 May 2018:
eaar2578
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar2578

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Abstract

Brain size variation over primate evolution and human development is associated with shifts in the proportions of different brain regions. Individual brain size can vary more than twofold among typically developing humans, but the consequences of this for brain organization remain poorly understood. Using in vivo neuroimaging data from more than 3000 individuals, we find that larger human brains show greater areal expansion in distributed frontoparietal cortical networks and related subcortical regions than in limbic, sensory, and motor systems. This areal redistribution recapitulates cortical remodeling across evolution, manifests by early childhood in humans, and is linked to multiple markers of heightened metabolic cost and neuronal connectivity. Thus, human brain shape is systematically coupled to naturally occurring variations in brain size through a scaling map that integrates spatiotemporally diverse aspects of neurobiology.

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