The spatial relationships between brain and braincase represent a major topic in surgery and evolutionary neuroanatomy. In paleoneurology, neurocranial landmarks are often used as references for brain areas. In this study, we analyze the variation and covariation of midsagittal brain and skull coordinates in a sample of adult modern humans in order to demonstrate spatial associations between hard and soft tissues. The correlation between parietal lobe size and parietal bone size is very low, and there is a marked individual variation. The distances between lobes and bones are partially influenced by the dimensions of the parietal lobes. The main pattern of morphological variability among individuals, associated with the size of the precuneus, apparently does not influence the position of the neurocranial sutures. Therefore, variations in precuneal size modify the distance between the paracentral lobule and bregma, and between the parietal lobe and lambda. Hence, the relative position of the cranial and cerebral landmarks can change as a function of the parietal dimensions. The slight correlation and covariation among these elements suggests a limited degree of spatial integration between soft and hard tissues. Therefore, although the brain influences the cranial size and shape during morphogenesis, the specific position of the cerebral components is sensitive to multiple effects and local factors, without a strict correspondence with the bone landmarks. This absence of correspondent change between brain and skull boundaries suggests caution when making inferences about the brain areas from the position of the cranial sutures. The fact that spatial relationships between cranial and brain areas may vary according to brain proportions must be considered in paleoneurology, when brain anatomy is inferred from cranial evidence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology