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Author Notes:

Address correspondence to Tianming Liu, Department of Computer Science and Bioimaging Research Center, The University of Georgia, Boyd GSRC 420, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Email: tliu@uga.edu.

H.C. and T.Z. are co-first authors.

The mechanical simulations in Supplementary Figure S6 were assisted by Xin Chen, NWPU.

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that have helped to significantly improve this paper.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.


Research Funding:

T.L. was supported by the NIH Career Award EB 006878, NIH R01 HL087923-03S2, and the University of Georgia start-up research funding.

K.L. was supported by the NWPU Foundation for Fundamental Research.

L.L. and X.H. were supported by NIH PO1 AG026423.

K.L. and T.Z. were supported by the China Government Scholarship


  • axonal pushing, brain evolution
  • cortical folding
  • diffusion tensor imaging

Coevolution of Gyral Folding and Structural Connection Patterns in Primate Brains


Journal Title:

Cerebral Cortex


Volume 23, Number 5


, Pages 1208-1217

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Both cortical folding and structural connection patterns are more elaborated during the evolution of primate neocortex. For instance, cortical gyral shapes and structural connection patterns in humans are more complex and variable than those in chimpanzees and macaques. However, the intrinsic relationship between gyral folding and structural connection and their coevolution patterns across primates remain unclear. Here, our qualitative and quantitative analyses of in vivo diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data consistently demonstrate that structural fiber connection patterns closely follow gyral folding patterns in the direction “tangent” to the cortical sphere, and this close relationship is well preserved in the neocortices of macaque, chimpanzee, and human brains, despite the progressively increasing complexity and variability of cortical folding and structural connection patterns. The findings suggest a hypothesis that a common axonal fiber pushing mechanism sculpts the curved patterns of gyri in the tangent direction during primate brain evolution. Our DTI/MRI data analysis provides novel insights into the structural architecture of primate brains, a new viewpoint of the relationship between cortical morphology and connection, and a basis for future elucidation of the functional implication of coevolution of cortical folding and structural connection patterns.

Copyright information:

© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com

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