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A neuronal morphologic type unique to humans and great apes

Nimchinsky, Esther A. and Gilissen, Emmanuel and Allman, John M. and Perl, Daniel P. and Erwin, Joseph M. and Hof, Patrick R. (1999) A neuronal morphologic type unique to humans and great apes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96 (9). pp. 5268-5273. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC21853.

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We report the existence and distribution of an unusual type of projection neuron, a large, spindle-shaped cell, in layer Vb of the anterior cingulate cortex of pongids and hominids. These spindle cells were not observed in any other primate species or any other mammalian taxa, and their volume was correlated with brain volume residuals, a measure of encephalization in higher primates. These observations are of particular interest when considering primate neocortical evolution, as they reveal possible adaptive changes and functional modifications over the last 15-20 million years in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region that plays a major role in the regulation of many aspects of autonomic function and of certain cognitive processes. That in humans these unique neurons have been shown previously to be severely affected in the degenerative process of Alzheimer's disease suggests that some of the differential neuronal susceptibility that occurs in the human brain in the course of age-related dementing illnesses may have appeared only recently during primate evolution.

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Additional Information:© 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences Communicated by Francis Crick, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, CA, March 1, 1999 (received for review November 16, 1998) We thank Drs. C. Bouras, I. I. Glezer, S. G. Kohama, J. Marcus, E. J. Mufson, and L. G. Ungerleider for providing some of the specimens; Dr. T. Insel for providing a dataset on bonobo brain volume and A. Hakeem for help with data analysis; Drs. P. J. Gannon, C. V. Mobbs, J. H. Morrison, P. R. Rapp, and B. A. Vogt for helpful discussions; Dr. W. G. Young for software development; and S. Bruns, A. P. Leonard, E. Lugo, F. Robenzadeh, and R. Vertesi for technical assistance. Most of the great ape brains were supplied by the Great Ape Aging Project, a comparative neurobiology of aging resource at Bioqual Inc. (J.M.E.). This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants AG14308 (J.M.E.), CAyMH08944, and EY11759 (J.M.A.), the Del Webb Foundation (E.G.), and Mount Sinai School of Medicine (P.R.H.). The publication costs of this article were defrayed in part by page charge payment. This article must therefore be hereby marked "advertisement" in accordance with 18 U.S.C. §1734 solely to indicate this fact.
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Del Webb FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Mount Sinai School of MedicineUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:9
PubMed Central ID:PMC21853
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:NIMpnas99
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:1274
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:07 Jan 2006
Last Modified:02 Oct 2019 22:41

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