• comparative neuroanatomy;
  • brain evolution;
  • frontal lobe;
  • minicolumns;
  • cortex;
  • hominid


Broca's area was identified in the inferior frontal gyrus of chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and orangutan brains through direct cytoarchitectonic comparison with human brains. Across species, Broca's area comprises Brodmann's areas 44 and 45. We found that these areas exhibited similar cytoarchitectonic characteristics in all species examined. We analyzed the minicolumnar organization of cells in layer III of Broca's area in 11 human and 9 great ape specimens. A semiautomated method was used to analyze digitized images of histological sections stained for Nissl substance. Horizontal spacing distance and gray level index (GLI; or the area fraction occupied by cells) were quantified in all images. In contrast to area Tpt, the only cortical area for which comparative minicolumnar data have been published previously for humans and one of the great apes, we found no population-level asymmetry, for either horizontal spacing distance or GLI. Only human females exhibited a leftward asymmetry in GLI. GLI was lower in humans than in great apes (P < 0.001), allowing more space for connectivity in layer III. In humans, horizontal spacing distance was greater than in great apes but smaller relative to brain size. J. Comp. Neurol. 510:117–128, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.