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J Comp Neurol. 1998 Nov 2;400(4):449-68.

Anatomical comparison of the macaque and marsupial visual cortex: common features that may reflect retention of essential cortical elements.

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  • 1Department of Visual Science, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, England.


This study identifies fundamental anatomical features of primary visual cortex, area V1 of macaque monkey cerebral cortex, i.e., features that are present in area V1 of phylogenetically distant mammals of quite different lifestyle and features that are common to other regions of cortex. We compared anatomical constituents of macaque V1 with V1 of members of the two principal marsupial lines, the dunnart and the quokka, that diverged from the eutherian mammalian line over 135 million years ago. Features of V1 common to both macaque and marsupials were then compared with anatomical features we have previously described for macaque prefrontal cortex. Despite large differences in overall area and thickness of V1 cortex between these animals, the absolute size of pyramidal neurons is remarkably similar, as are their specific dendritic branch patterns and patterns of distribution of intrinsic axons. Pyramidal neuron patchy connections exist in the supragranular V1 in both the marsupial quokka and macaque as well as in macaque prefrontal cortex. Several specific types of aspinous interneurons are common to area V1 in both marsupial and macaque and are also present in macaque prefrontal cortex. Spiny stellate cells are a common feature of the thalamic-recipient, mid-depth lamina 4 of V1 in all three species. Because these similarities exist despite the very different lifestyles and evolutionary histories of the animals compared, this finding argues for a highly conserved framework of cellular detail in macaque primary visual cortex rather than convergent evolution of these features.

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