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Keywords:

  • Brain;
  • Cerebral cortex;
  • Asymmetry;
  • Sylvian fissure;
  • Sylvian point;
  • Central fissure;
  • Wernicke's area;
  • Cercopithecoid;
  • New World monkey;
  • Hominoid;
  • Endocast

Abstract

Relatively large (n = 20–30) samples of formalin-fixed brain specimens from five Old and New World monkey species were examined in a study measuring anatomical temporal-lobe asymmetries. Linear measurements of the length of the Sylvian fissure were taken on each cerebral hemisphere to evaluate lateral differences related to development of auditory association cortex. The results indicate significantly greater Sylvian fissure length on the left hemisphere than on the right hemisphere in four of these species. Measurements of a different parameter on Saimiri sciureus brain specimens (length of anterior portion of the Sylvian fissure) also suggested temporal-lobe asymmetry favoring the left hemisphere. Other measurements (length of the Sylvian fissure lying posterior to the central sulcus, and dorso-ventral position of the Sylvian point) in Macaca mulatta and M. fascicularis did not reveal significant right/left-hemisphere differences. Sylvian-fissure length determined from photographs of M. mulatta hemispheres in contrast to results of direct measurements did not yield significant right/left-hemisphere asymmetry. We mention possible reasons why previous anatomical studies of brains from monkeys did not discern temporal-lobe asymmetry, and we also discuss whether or not certain of these asymmetries in monkeys foreshadowed the evolution of language-processing areas of the cerebral cortex in hominids.