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Keywords:

  • brain geometry;
  • geometric morphometrics;
  • parietal lobe;
  • shape variation

Abstract

Recent analyses indicate that the precuneus is one of the main centres of integration in terms of functional and structural processes within the human brain. This neuroanatomical element is formed by different subregions, involved in visuo-spatial integration, memory and self-awareness. We analysed the midsagittal brain shape in a sample of adult humans (n = 90) to evidence the patterns of variability and geometrical organization of this area. Interestingly, the major brain covariance pattern within adult humans is strictly associated with the relative proportions of the precuneus. Its morphology displays a marked individual variation, both in terms of geometry (mostly in its longitudinal dimensions) and anatomy (patterns of convolution). No patent differences are evident between males and females, and the allometric effect of size is minimal. However, in terms of morphology, the precuneus does not represent an individual module, being influenced by different neighbouring structures. Taking into consideration the apparent involvement of the precuneus in higher-order human brain functions and evolution, its wide variation further stresses the important role of these deep parietal areas in modern neuroanatomical organization.