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Cereb Cortex. 2018 Nov 1;28(11):3829-3841. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx244.

Structural Variability Across the Primate Brain: A Cross-Species Comparison.

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Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 1 Gustave L Levy Place, New York, NY, USA.
Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, Department of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
Natbrainlab, Department Forensics and Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
Brain Connectivity and Behaviour group, Brain and Spine Institute, Paris, France.
Frontlab, Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM), UPMC UMRS 1127, Inserm U 1127, CNRS UMR 7225, Paris, France.


A large amount of variability exists across human brains; revealed initially on a small scale by postmortem studies and, more recently, on a larger scale with the advent of neuroimaging. Here we compared structural variability between human and macaque monkey brains using grey and white matter magnetic resonance imaging measures. The monkey brain was overall structurally as variable as the human brain, but variability had a distinct distribution pattern, with some key areas showing high variability. We also report the first evidence of a relationship between anatomical variability and evolutionary expansion in the primate brain. This suggests a relationship between variability and stability, where areas of low variability may have evolved less recently and have more stability, while areas of high variability may have evolved more recently and be less similar across individuals. We showed specific differences between the species in key areas, including the amount of hemispheric asymmetry in variability, which was left-lateralized in the human brain across several phylogenetically recent regions. This suggests that cerebral variability may be another useful measure for comparison between species and may add another dimension to our understanding of evolutionary mechanisms.

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