Comparative neuroanatomical parcellation of the human and nonhuman primate temporal pole


  • Ricardo Insausti

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    1. Human Neuroanatomy Laboratory, School of Medicine, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain
    • Correspondence to: Ricardo Insausti, Human Neuroanatomy Laboratory, School of Medicine, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Almansa 14, 02006 Albacete, Spain. E-mail:

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The temporal pole is unique to nonhuman and human primates, although other species also present temporal cortex. A clear distinction is made between the gross anatomical, macroscopic temporal pole, located at the tip of the temporal lobe, and the temporal polar cortex, which is a general term that encompasses all reported divisions and can be applied to both nonhuman and human primates. In the 19th century early neuroanatomists identified the temporal polar cortex as a different entity, independent from the remainder of the temporal lobe. More recently, the temporal polar cortex has been subdivided into different fields. The analysis of the different portions that make up the temporal polar cortex was first described in the nonhuman primate, and later on in humans. In this review we examine the historical course of the concepts about the extension, structure, and main cytoarchitectonic areas. The different descriptions are presented in chronological order and their relevance is discussed. In general, some common features arise in nonhuman and human primates temporopolar cortex, namely, an increased thickness of this cortical area, a predominant dysgranular type of cortex, and a more restricted extension in humans relative to earlier accounts. A common pattern of cytoarchitectonic areas results from the criteria of previous authors, although the sulcal anatomy of the human temporal pole has great variability. The understanding of the extension, composition, and limits of the temporal polar cortex is crucial for identification of separate regions in neuroimaging studies. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:4163–4176, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.