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Von economo neurons in the anterior insula of the macaque monkey

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons83908

Evrard,  HC
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Dept. Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent System, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons83914

Forro,  T
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84063

Logothetis,  NK
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Evrard, H., Forro, T., & Logothetis, N. (2012). Von economo neurons in the anterior insula of the macaque monkey. Neuron, 74(3), 482–489. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.03.003.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-B776-6
Abstract
The anterior insular cortex (AIC) and its unique spindle-shaped von Economo neuron (VEN) emerged within the last decade as having a potentially major role in self-awareness and social cognition in humans. Invasive examination of the VEN has been precluded so far by the assumption that this neuron occurs among primates exclusively in humans and great apes. Here, we demonstrate the presence of the VEN in the agranular anterior insula of the macaque monkey. The morphology, size, laminar distribution, and proportional distribution of the monkey VEN suggest that it is at least a primal anatomical homolog of the human VEN. This finding sheds new light on the phylogeny of the VEN and AIC. Most importantly, it offers new and much-needed opportunities to investigate the primal connections and physiology of a neuron that could be crucial for human self-awareness, social cognition, and related neuropsychiatric disorders.