About this item:

5,801 Views | 660 Downloads

Author Notes:

*Correspondence: James K. Rilling, Department of Anthropology, Emory University, 1557 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. e-mail: jrillin@emory.edu

Edited by: Angela Dorkas Friederici, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany

Reviewed by: Thomas Lachmann, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany; Jonathan K. Burns, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

We thank Ashley DeMarco, Longchuan Li, Govind Bhagavatheeshwaran, Bhargav Errangi, Xiaodong Zhang, and Xiaoping Hu for assistance with various aspects of this study.

Mark Jenkinson provided a preview version of boundary-based registration in FLIRT for T2w to T1w registration.

Bill Hopkins provided probabilistic cytoarchitectonic areas for the chimpanzees.

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


Research Funding:

Matthew F. Glasser was supported by a National Research Science Award – Medical Scientist NIH T32 GM007200.

Some computations were performed using facilities of the Washington University Center for High Performance Computing, partially supported by Grant NCRR 1S10RR022984-01.

Funding was provided by NIMH Grant R01 MH084068-01A1, NIA Grant 5P01 AG026423-03, and the Yerkes Base Grant: NIH RR-00165.

The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


  • language
  • evolution
  • brain
  • chimpanzee
  • arcuate fasciculus
  • extreme capsule

Continuity, Divergence, and the Evolution of Brain Language Pathways


Journal Title:

Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience


Volume 3


Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Recently, the assumption of evolutionary continuity between humans and non-human primates has been used to bolster the hypothesis that human language is mediated especially by the ventral extreme capsule pathway that mediates auditory object recognition in macaques. Here, we argue for the importance of evolutionary divergence in understanding brain language evolution. We present new comparative data reinforcing our previous conclusion that the dorsal arcuate fasciculus pathway was more significantly modified than the ventral extreme capsule pathway in human evolution. Twenty-six adult human and twenty-six adult chimpanzees were imaged with diffusion-weighted MRI and probabilistic tractography was used to track and compare the dorsal and ventral language pathways. Based on these and other data, we argue that the arcuate fasciculus is likely to be the pathway most essential for higher-order aspects of human language such as syntax and lexical–semantics.

Copyright information:

© 2012 Rilling, Glasser, Jbabdi, Andersson and Preuss.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).

Creative Commons License

Export to EndNote