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Keywords:

  • striate;
  • extrastriate;
  • cortex;
  • dendrite;
  • spine;
  • Lucifer yellow

Abstract

Typically, cognitive abilities of humans have been attributed to their greatly expanded cortical mantle, granular prefrontal cortex (gPFC) in particular. Recently we have demonstrated systematic differences in microstructure of gPFC in different species. Specifically, pyramidal cells in adult human gPFC are considerably more spinous than those in the gPFC of the macaque monkey, which are more spinous than those in the gPFC of marmoset and owl monkeys. As most cortical dendritic spines receive at least one excitatory input, pyramidal cells in these different species putatively receive different numbers of inputs. These differences in the gPFC pyramidal cell phenotype may be of fundamental importance in determining the functional characteristics of prefrontal circuitry and hence the cognitive styles of the different species. However, it remains unknown as to why the gPFC pyramidal cell phenotype differs between species. Differences could be attributed to, among other things, brain size, relative size of gPFC, or the lineage to which the species belong. Here we investigated pyramidal cells in the dorsolateral gPFC of the prosimian galago to extend the basis for comparison. We found these cells to be less spinous than those in human, macaque, and marmoset. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.