Comparative analysis of cortical layering and supragranular layer enlargement in rodent carnivore and primate species

Jeffrey J. Hutsler, Dong Geun Lee, Kristin K. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The mammalian cerebral cortex is composed of individual layers characterized by the cell types they contain and their afferent and efferent connections. The current study examined the raw, and size-normalized, laminar thicknesses in three cortical regions (somatosensory, motor, and premotor) of fourteen species from three orders of mammals: primates, carnivores, and rodents. The proportional size of the pyramidal cell layers (supra- and infragranular) varied between orders but was similar within orders despite wide variance in absolute cortical thickness. Further, supragranular layer thickness was largest in primates (46 ± 3 percent), followed by carnivores (36 ± 3 percent), and then rodents (19 ± 4 percent), suggesting a distinct difference in the proportion of cortex devoted to corticocortical connectivity across these orders. Although measures of supragranular layer thickness are highly correlated with measures of overall brain size, such associations are not present when independent contrasts are used to control for phylogenetic inertia. Interestingly, neurogenesis time span remains strongly associated with supragranular layer thickness despite size normalization and controlling for phylogenetic inertia. Such layering differences between orders, and similarities amongst species within an order, suggest that supragranular layer expansion may have occurred early in mammalian evolution and may be related to ontogenetic variables such as neurogenesis time span rather than measures of overall size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalBrain research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2 2005


  • Column
  • Cortex
  • Evolution
  • Mammal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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