Cerebral cortex and cerebellar cortex both vary enormously across species in their size and complexity of convolutions. We discuss the development and evolution of cortical structures in terms of anatomy and functional organization. We propose that the distinctive shapes of cerebral and cerebellar cortex can be explained by relatively few developmental processes, notably including mechanical tension along axons and dendrites. Regarding functional organization, we show how maps of myelin content in cerebral cortex are evolutionarily conserved across primates but differ in the proportion of cortex devoted to sensory, cognitive, and other functions. We summarize recent progress and challenges in (i) parcellating cerebral cortex into a mosaic of distinct areas, (ii) distinguishing cortical areas that correspond across species from those that are present in one species but not another, and (iii) using this information along with surface-based interspecies registration to gain deeper insights into cortical evolution. We also comment on the methodological challenges imposed by the differences in anatomical and functional organization of cerebellar cortex relative to cerebral cortex.
- Cerebral cortex
- Nonhuman primate