The human connectome from an evolutionary perspective

Dirk Jan Ardesch, Lianne H Scholtens, Martijn P van den Heuvel

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The connectome describes the comprehensive set of neuronal connections of a species' central nervous system. Identifying the network characteristics of the human macroscale connectome and comparing these features with connectomes of other species provides insight into the evolution of human brain connectivity and its role in brain function. Several network properties of the human connectome are conserved across species, with emerging evidence also indicating potential human-specific adaptations of connectome topology. This review describes the human macroscale structural and functional connectome, focusing on common themes of brain wiring in the animal kingdom and network adaptations that may underlie human brain function. Evidence is drawn from comparative studies across a wide range of animal species, and from research comparing human brain wiring with that of non-human primates. Approaching the human connectome from a comparative perspective paves the way for network-level insights into the evolution of human brain structure and function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-151
Number of pages23
JournalProgress in Brain Research
Early online date9 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Comparative connectomics
  • Connectome
  • Evolution
  • Graph theory
  • Human brain
  • Network
  • Primate brain


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