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

Paula L. Croxson, Stephanie J. Forkel, Leonardo Cerliani, Michel Thiebaut De Schotten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3829-3841
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • asymmetry
  • cross-species comparison
  • evolution
  • grey matter
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • variability
  • white matter


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