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1.  Neocortical synaptophysin asymmetry and behavioral lateralization in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) 
The European journal of neuroscience  2010;31(8):1456-1464.
Although behavioral lateralization is known to correlate with certain aspects of brain asymmetry in primates, there are limited data concerning hemispheric biases in the microstructure of the neocortex. In the present study, we investigated whether there is asymmetry in synaptophysin-immunoreactive puncta density and protein expression levels in the region of hand representation of the primary motor cortex in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Synaptophysin is a presynaptic vesicle-associated protein found in nearly all synapses of the central nervous system. We also tested whether there is a relationship between hand preference on a coordinated bimanual task and the interhemispheric distribution of synaptophysin as measured by both stereologic counts of immunoreactive puncta and by Western blotting. Our results demonstrated that synaptophysin-immunoreactive puncta density is not asymmetric at the population level, whereas synaptophysin protein expression levels are significantly higher in the right hemisphere. Handedness was correlated with interindividual variation in synaptophysin-immunoreactive puncta density. As a group, left-handed and ambidextrous chimpanzees showed a rightward bias in puncta density. In contrast, puncta densities were symmetrical in right-handed chimpanzees. These findings support the conclusion that synapse asymmetry is modulated by lateralization of skilled motor behavior in chimpanzees.
PMCID: PMC4676573  PMID: 20384782
asymmetry; handedness; plasticity; primary motor cortex; synapse
2.  A Voxel-Based Morphometry Analysis of White Matter Asymmetries in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) 
Brain, Behavior and Evolution  2010;76(2):93-100.
Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) has become an increasingly common method for assessing neuroanatomical asymmetries in human in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Here, we employed VBM to examine asymmetries in white matter in a sample of 48 chimpanzees (15 males and 33 females). T1-weighted MRI scans were segmented into white matter using FSL and registered to a common template. The segmented volumes were then flipped in the left-right axis and registered back to the template. The mirror image white matter volumes were then subtracted from the correctly oriented volumes and voxel-by-voxel t tests were performed. Twenty-seven significant lateralized clusters were found, including 18 in the left hemisphere and 9 in the right hemisphere. Several of the asymmetries were found in regions corresponding to well-known white matter tracts including the superior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior longitudinal fasciculus and corticospinal tract.
PMCID: PMC3202944  PMID: 20881357
Chimpanzees; Brain asymmetry; White matter; Language evolution
3.  Broca's Area Homologue in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Probabilistic Mapping, Asymmetry, and Comparison to Humans 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2009;20(3):730-742.
Neural changes that occurred during human evolution to support language are poorly understood. As a basis of comparison to humans, we used design-based stereological methods to estimate volumes, total neuron numbers, and neuron densities in Brodmann's areas 44 and 45 in both cerebral hemispheres of 12 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), one of our species’ closest living relatives. We found that the degree of interindividual variation in the topographic location and quantitative cytoarchitecture of areas 44 and 45 in chimpanzees was comparable to that seen in humans from previous studies. However, in contrast to the documented asymmetries in humans, we did not find significant population-level hemispheric asymmetry for any measures of areas 44 and 45 in chimpanzees. Furthermore, there was no relationship between asymmetries of stereological data and magnetic resonance imaging–based measures of inferior frontal gyrus morphology or hand preference on 2 different behavioral tasks. These findings suggest that Broca's area in the left hemisphere expanded in relative size during human evolution, possibly as an adaptation for our species’ language abilities.
PMCID: PMC2820707  PMID: 19620620
cytoarchitecture; evolution; great ape; handedness; stereology
4.  Gray Matter Asymmetries in Chimpanzees as Revealed by Voxel-Based Morphometry 
NeuroImage  2008;42(2):491-497.
Determination of whether nonhuman primates exhibit neuroanatomical asymmetries would inform our understanding of the evolution of traits in humans that show functional hemispheric dominance, including language and handedness. Here we report the first evidence of population-level asymmetries in the chimpanzee neocortex using voxel-based morphology (VBM). MRI scans of the brain were collected in a sample of 31 chimpanzees including 9 males and 22 females, and the resulting images were segmented into gray matter, white matter and CSF. Gray matter images were then co-registered to a template and these normally oriented volumes were flipped on the left-right axis to create mirror volumes. In total, significant asymmetries were found in 13 regions including several that have been described previously in great apes using traditional region-of-interest approaches. The results from this VBM analysis support previous reports of hemispheric lateralization in chimpanzees and reinforce the view that asymmetries in the central nervous system are not uniquely human.
PMCID: PMC2569890  PMID: 18586523

Results 1-4 (4)