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      Distinct Patterns of Hippocampal and Neocortical Evolution in Primates

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          Because of the central role of the hippocampus in representing spatial and temporal details of experience, comparative studies of its volume and structure are relevant to understanding the evolution of representational memory across species. The hippocampal formation, however, is organized into separate anatomical subregions with distinct functions, and little is known about the evolutionary diversification of these subregions. We investigate relative volumetric changes in hippocampal subregions across a large sample of primate species. We then compare the evolution of the hippocampal formation to the neocortex. Results across hippocampal subregions indicate that, compared to strepsirrhines, the anthropoid lineage displays a decrease in relative CA3, fascia dentata, subiculum, and rhinal cortex volume in tandem with an increase in relative neocortical volume. These findings indicate that hippocampal function in anthropoids might be substantially augmented by the executive decision-making functions of the neocortex. Humans are found to have a unique cerebral organization combining increased relative CA3, subiculum, and rhinal cortex with increased relative neocortical volumes, suggesting that these regions may play a role in behaviors that are uniquely specialized in humans.

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          Most cited references 116

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          The hippocampus as a spatial map. Preliminary evidence from unit activity in the freely-moving rat

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            Separate visual pathways for perception and action

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              Invariant visual representation by single neurons in the human brain.

              It takes a fraction of a second to recognize a person or an object even when seen under strikingly different conditions. How such a robust, high-level representation is achieved by neurons in the human brain is still unclear. In monkeys, neurons in the upper stages of the ventral visual pathway respond to complex images such as faces and objects and show some degree of invariance to metric properties such as the stimulus size, position and viewing angle. We have previously shown that neurons in the human medial temporal lobe (MTL) fire selectively to images of faces, animals, objects or scenes. Here we report on a remarkable subset of MTL neurons that are selectively activated by strikingly different pictures of given individuals, landmarks or objects and in some cases even by letter strings with their names. These results suggest an invariant, sparse and explicit code, which might be important in the transformation of complex visual percepts into long-term and more abstract memories.

                Author and article information

                Brain Behav Evol
                Brain, Behavior and Evolution
                S. Karger AG
                November 2019
                09 July 2019
                : 93
                : 4
                : 171-181
                aInterdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
                bDepartment of Anthropology, Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
                cDepartment of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
                Author notes
                *David R. Vanier, Stony Brook University, SBS Building 516N, Stony Brook, NY 11794 (USA), E-Mail
                500625 Brain Behav Evol 2019;93:171–181
                © 2019 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Figures: 2, Pages: 11
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