The parietal lobe has a unique place in the human brain. Anatomically, it is at the crossroad between the frontal, occipital, and temporal lobes, thus providing a middle ground for multimodal sensory integration. Functionally, it supports higher cognitive functions that are characteristic of the human species, such as mathematical cognition, semantic and pragmatic aspects of language, and abstract thinking. Despite its importance, a comprehensive comparison of human and simian intraparietal networks is missing. In this study, we used diffusion imaging tractography to reconstruct the major intralobar parietal tracts in twenty-one datasets acquired in vivo from healthy human subjects and eleven ex vivo datasets from five vervet and six macaque monkeys. Three regions of interest (postcentral gyrus, superior parietal lobule and inferior parietal lobule) were used to identify the tracts. Surface projections were reconstructed for both species and results compared to identify similarities or differences in tract anatomy (i.e., trajectories and cortical projections). In addition, post-mortem dissections were performed in a human brain. The largest tract identified in both human and monkey brains is a vertical pathway between the superior and inferior parietal lobules. This tract can be divided into an anterior (supramarginal gyrus) and a posterior (angular gyrus) component in both humans and monkey brains. The second prominent intraparietal tract connects the postcentral gyrus to both supramarginal and angular gyri of the inferior parietal lobule in humans but only to the supramarginal gyrus in the monkey brain. The third tract connects the postcentral gyrus to the anterior region of the superior parietal lobule and is more prominent in monkeys compared to humans. Finally, short U-shaped fibres in the medial and lateral aspects of the parietal lobe were identified in both species. A tract connecting the medial parietal cortex to the lateral inferior parietal cortex was observed in the monkey brain only. Our findings suggest a consistent pattern of intralobar parietal connections between humans and monkeys with some differences for those areas that have cytoarchitectonically distinct features in humans. The overall pattern of intraparietal connectivity supports the special role of the inferior parietal lobule in cognitive functions characteristic of humans.
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Diffusion tractography, Networks, Parietal lobe, Pathways, White matter