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A volumetric comparison of the insular cortex and its subregions in primates

Bauernfeind, Amy L. and de Sousa, Alexandra A. and Avasthi, Tanvi and Dobson, Seth D. and Raghanti, Mary Ann and Lewandowski, Albert H. and Zilles, Karl and Semendeferi, Katerina and Allman, John M. and Craig, Arthur D. (Bud) and Hof, Patrick R. and Sherwood, Chet C. (2013) A volumetric comparison of the insular cortex and its subregions in primates. Journal of Human Evolution, 64 (4). pp. 263-279. ISSN 0047-2484. PMCID PMC3756831. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.12.003.

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The neuronal composition of the insula in primates displays a gradient, transitioning from granular neocortex in the posterior-dorsal insula to agranular neocortex in the anterior-ventral insula with an intermediate zone of dysgranularity. Additionally, apes and humans exhibit a distinctive subdomain in the agranular insula, the frontoinsular cortex (FI), defined by the presence of clusters of von Economo neurons (VENs). Studies in humans indicate that the ventral anterior insula, including agranular insular cortex and FI, is involved in social awareness, and that the posterodorsal insula, including granular and dysgranular cortices, produces an internal representation of the body's homeostatic state. We examined the volumes of these cytoarchitectural areas of insular cortex in 30 primate species, including the volume of FI in apes and humans. Results indicate that the whole insula scales hyperallometrically (exponent = 1.13) relative to total brain mass, and the agranular insula (including FI) scales against total brain mass with even greater positive allometry (exponent = 1.23), providing a potential neural basis for enhancement of social cognition in association with increased brain size. The relative volumes of the subdivisions of the insular cortex, after controlling for total brain volume, are not correlated with species typical social group size. Although its size is predicted by primate-wide allometric scaling patterns, we found that the absolute volume of the left and right agranular insula and left FI are among the most differentially expanded of the human cerebral cortex compared to our closest living relative, the chimpanzee.

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Additional Information:© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Received 4 April 2012. Accepted 31 December 2012. The authors thank Archibald Fobbs, curator of the Yakovlev and Welker Brain Collections and Dr. Adrianne NOE, director of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, for making the collections available to us and to the broader scientific community. We thank Joseph M. Erwin and The Great Ape Aging Project for providing access to many of the brains used in this study. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (DGE-0801634, BCS-0824531, BCS-0549117), the National Institutes of Health (NS-42867, RR-00165), the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at the University of California at San Diego, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation (22002078, 220020293).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Kavli Institute for Brain and MindUNSPECIFIED
James S. McDonnell Foundation22002078
James S. McDonnell Foundation220020293
Subject Keywords:Allometry; Brain; Evolution; Frontoinsular cortex; Hominoids
Issue or Number:4
PubMed Central ID:PMC3756831
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130517-073941369
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Official Citation:Amy L. Bauernfeind, Alexandra A. de Sousa, Tanvi Avasthi, Seth D. Dobson, Mary Ann Raghanti, Albert H. Lewandowski, Karl Zilles, Katerina Semendeferi, John M. Allman, Arthur D. (Bud) Craig, Patrick R. Hof, Chet C. Sherwood, A volumetric comparison of the insular cortex and its subregions in primates, Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 64, Issue 4, April 2013, Pages 263-279, ISSN 0047-2484, 10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.12.003. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:38551
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:29 May 2013 16:53
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:38

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