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The evolution of the arcuate fasciculus revealed with comparative DTI

Nature Neuroscience volume 11, pages 426428 (2008) | Download Citation



The arcuate fasciculus is a white-matter fiber tract that is involved in human language. Here we compared cortical connectivity in humans, chimpanzees and macaques (Macaca mulatta) and found a prominent temporal lobe projection of the human arcuate fasciculus that is much smaller or absent in nonhuman primates. This human specialization may be relevant to the evolution of language.

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We thank Q. Shen and F. Zhao for technical assistance, and M.F.S. Rushworth and M.J. Konner for many helpful comments. We also thank P. Croxson for collecting the human scans and M.-M. Carrasco for assistance with tracking control pathways. This work was supported by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience Science and Technology Center Program of the National Science Foundation under agreement no. IBN-9876754, Emory University Research Committee, James S. McDonnell Foundation grant 21002093 to T.M.P., RO1EB002009 to X.H., the Yerkes Base Grant (NIH RR-00165) and the UK Medical Research Council to T.E.J.B.

Author information


  1. Department of Anthropology, Emory University, 207 Anthropology Building, 1557 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

    • James K Rilling
    •  & Matthew F Glasser
  2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, 1639 Pierce Drive, Suite 4000, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

    • James K Rilling
  3. Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Emory University, PO Box 3966, Atlanta, Georgia 30302, USA.

    • James K Rilling
    •  & Todd M Preuss
  4. Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 954 Gatewood Road, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA.

    • James K Rilling
  5. Division of Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 954 Gatewood Road, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA.

    • Todd M Preuss
  6. Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Emory University Hospital, Room H183, 1364 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

    • Todd M Preuss
  7. Biomedical Imaging Technology Center, Emory University, Hospital Education Annex, 531 Asbury Circle, Suite 305, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

    • Xiangyang Ma
    • , Tiejun Zhao
    •  & Xiaoping Hu
  8. FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford, J R Hospital, Headley Way, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9DU, UK.

    • Timothy E J Behrens
  9. Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UD, UK.

    • Timothy E J Behrens


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J.K.R. designed the study, acquired the nonhuman data, supervised analyses and wrote the paper. M.F.G. analyzed the data. T.M.P. acquired the nonhuman brains, assisted with data analysis and presentation, and wrote the paper. X.M., T.Z. and X.H. assisted with nonhuman primate protocol development, and T.E.J.B. and Oxford colleagues acquired the human data. T.E.J.B. oversaw the data-analysis strategy with the exception of the in vivo chimpanzee and macaque data presented in the supplementary information.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James K Rilling.

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    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figures 1–4, Table 1 and Methods

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