Frontal white matter volume is associated with brain enlargement and higher structural connectivity in anthropoid primates

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Abstract

Previous research has indicated the importance of the frontal lobe and its 'executive' connections to other brain structures as crucial in explaining primate neocortical adaptations. However, a representative sample of volumetric measurements of frontal connective tissue (white matter) has not been available. In this study, we present new volumetric measurements of white and grey matter in the frontal and non-frontal neocortical lobes from 18 anthropoid species. We analyze this data in the context of existing theories of neocortex, frontal lobe and white versus grey matter hyperscaling. Results indicate that the 'universal scaling law' of neocortical white to grey matter applies separately for frontal and non-frontal lobes; that hyperscaling of both neocortex and frontal lobe to rest of brain is mainly due to frontal white matter; and that changes in frontal (but not non-frontal) white matter volume are associated with changes in rest of brain and basal ganglia, a group of subcortical nuclei functionally linked to 'executive control'. Results suggest a central role for frontal white matter in explaining neocortex and frontal lobe hyperscaling, brain size variation and higher neural structural connectivity in anthropoids. © 2010 Smaers et al.

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Smaers, J. B., Schleicher, A., Zilles, K., & Vinicius, L. (2010). Frontal white matter volume is associated with brain enlargement and higher structural connectivity in anthropoid primates. PLoS ONE, 5(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0009123

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