Primate brains display a wide range of variation in size and cerebral gyrification, leading to the appearance of novel sulci in particular groups of species. We investigated sulcal organization in the medial frontal cortex of great apes, with a particular focus on the paracingulate sulcus (PCGS). Until recently, the presence of the PCGS was thought to be a structural feature unique to the human brain. However, upon closer examination, the PCGS has been observed as a variable feature that also may appear in chimpanzee brains. To understand the evolutionary origins of the sulcal anatomy in the medial frontal cortex of apes, we examined high-resolution MRI scans for the presence or absence of the PCGS and, when present, measured its length in a sample of ape brains (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, and siamangs). We found that the PCGS is variable in its appearance among these species, being present in 23 to 50% of great ape individuals depending on the species, but not present in gibbons or siamangs. We did not find population level hemispheric lateralization patterns or sex differences in PCGS presence across species, and we did not detect a relationship between cerebral volume and PCGS occurrence or length. Our data suggest that the PCGS is a common sulcal variant present in great apes and humans due to a shared evolutionary ancestry.
- Medial frontal cortex
- Paracingulate sulcus