The evolution, formation and connectivity of the anterior commissure

Laura R. Fenlon, Rodrigo Suarez, Zorana Lynton, Linda J. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The anterior commissure is the most ancient of the forebrain interhemispheric connections among all vertebrates. Indeed, it is the predominant pallial commissure in all non-eutherian vertebrates, universally subserving basic functions related to olfaction and survival. A key feature of the anterior commissure is its ability to convey connections from diverse brain areas, such as most of the neocortex in non-eutherian mammals, thereby mediating the bilateral integration of diverse functions. Shared developmental mechanisms between the anterior commissure and more evolutionarily recent commissures, such as the corpus callosum in eutherians, have led to the hypothesis that the former may have been a precursor for additional expansion of commissural circuits. However, differences between the formation of the anterior commissure and other telencephalic commissures suggest that independent developmental mechanisms underlie the emergence of these connections in extant species. Here, we review the developmental mechanisms and connectivity of the anterior commissure across evolutionarily distant species, and highlight its potential functional importance in humans, both in the course of normal neurodevelopment, and as a site of plastic axonal rerouting in the absence or damage of other connections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-59
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Anterior commissure
  • Brain evolution
  • Corpus callosum agenesis
  • Cortical axon guidance
  • Forebrain connectivity


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