Short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica) belong to the branch of marsupial mammals that diverged from eutherian mammals approximately 180 million years ago. They are small in size, lack a marsupial pouch, and may have retained more morphological characteristics of early marsupial neocortex than most other marsupials. In the present study, we used several different histochemical and immunochemical procedures to reveal the architectonic characteristics of cortical areas in short-tailed opossums. Subdivisions of cortex were identified in brain sections cut in the coronal, sagittal, horizontal or tangential planes and processed for a calcium-binding protein, parvalbumin (PV), neurofilament protein epitopes recognized by SMI-32, the vesicle glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2), myelin, cytochrome oxidase (CO), and Nissl substance. These different procedures revealed similar boundaries among areas, suggesting that functionally relevant borders were detected. The results allowed a fuller description and more precise demarcation of previously identified sensory areas, and the delineation of additional subdivisions of cortex. Area 17 (V1) was especially prominent, with a densely populated layer 4, high myelination levels, and dark staining of PV and VGluT2 immunopositive terminations. These architectonic features were present, albeit less pronounced, in somatosensory and auditory cortex. The major findings support the conclusion that short-tailed opossums have fewer cortical areas and their neocortex is less distinctly laminated than most other mammals.
Marsupial; Cortical areas; Visual cortex; Frontal cortex; Somatosensory cortex; Auditory cortex; Retrosplenial cortex; Cingulate cortex
The pulvinar complex of prosimian primates is not as architectonically differentiated as that of anthropoid primates. Thus, the functional subdivisions of the complex have been more difficult to determine. In the present study, we related patterns of connections of cortical visual areas (primary visual area, V1; secondary visual area, V2; and middle temporal visual area, MT) as well as the superior colliculus of the visual midbrain, with subdivisions of the pulvinar complex of prosimian galagos (Otolemur garnetti) that were revealed in brain sections processed for cell bodies (Nissl), cytochrome oxidase, or myelin. As in other primates, the architectonic methods allowed us to distinguish the lateral pulvinar (PL) and inferior pulvinar (PI) as major divisions of the visual pulvinar. The connection patterns further allowed us to divide PI into a large central nucleus (PIc), a medial nucleus (PIm), and a posterior nucleus (PIp). Both PL and PIc have separate topographic patterns of connections with V1 and V2. A third, posterior division of PI, PIp, does not appear to project to V1 and V2 and is further distinguished by receiving inputs from the superior colliculus. All these subdivisions of PI project to MT. The evidence suggests that PL of galagos contains a single, large nucleus, as in monkeys, and that PI may have only three subdivisions, rather than the four subdivisions of monkeys. In addition, the cortical projections of PI nuclei are more widespread than those in monkeys. Thus, the pulvinar nuclei in prosimian primates and anthropoid primates have evolved along somewhat different paths.
superior colliculus; visual cortex; middle temporal area; area 17; area 18; primate evolution; thalamus
The architectonic features of the ventroposterior nucleus (VP) were visualized in coronal brain sections from two macaque monkeys, two owl monkeys, two squirrel monkeys, and three galagos that were processed for cytochrome oxidase, Nissl bodies, or the vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (vGluT2). The traditional ventroposterior medial (VPM) and ventroposterior lateral (VPL) subnuclei were easily identified, as well as the forelimb and hindlimb compartments of VPL, as they were separated by poorly staining, cell-poor septa. Septa also separated other cell groups within VPM and VPL, specifically in the medial compartment of VPL representing the hand (hand VPL). In one squirrel monkey and one galago we demonstrated that these five groups of cells represent digits 1–5 in a mediolateral sequence by injecting tracers into the cortical representation of single digits, defined by microelectrode recordings, and relating concentrations of labeled neurons to specific cell groups in hand VPL. The results establish the existence of septa that isolate the representation of the five digits in VPL of primates and demonstrate that the isolated cell groups represent digits 1–5 in a mediolateral sequence. The present results show that the septa are especially prominent in brain sections processed for vGluT2, which is expressed in the synaptic terminals of excitatory neurons in most nuclei of the brainstem and thalamus. As vGluT2 is expressed in the synaptic terminations from dorsal columns and trigeminal brainstem nuclei, the effectiveness of vGluT2 preparations in revealing septa in VP likely reflects a lack of synapses using glutamate in the septa. J. Comp. Neurol. 519:738–758, 2011.
area 3b; somatosensory maps; digit representation; vGluT2
As diurnal rodents with a well-developed visual system, squirrels provide a useful comparison of visual system organization with other highly visual mammals such as tree shrews and primates. Here, we describe the projection pattern of gray squirrel superior colliculus (SC) with the large and well-differentiated pulvinar complex. Our anatomical results support the conclusion that the pulvinar complex of squirrels consists of four distinct nuclei. The caudal (C) nucleus, distinct in cytochrome oxidase (CO), acetylcholinesterase (AChE), and vesicular glutamate transporter-2 (VGluT2) preparations, received widespread projections from the ipsilateral SC, although a crude retinotopic organization was suggested. The caudal nucleus also received weaker projections from the contralateral SC. The caudal nucleus also projects back to the ipsilateral SC. Lateral (RLl) and medial (RLm) parts of the previously defined rostral lateral pulvinar (RL) were architectonically distinct, and each nucleus received its own retinotopic pattern of focused ipsilateral SC projections. The SC did not project to the rostral medial (RM) nucleus of the pulvinar. SC injections also revealed ipsilateral connections with the dorsal and ventral lateral geniculate nuclei, nuclei of the pretectum, and nucleus of the brachium of the inferior colliculus and bilateral connections with the parabigeminal nuclei. Comparisons with other rodents suggest that a variously named caudal nucleus, which relays visual inputs from the SC to temporal visual cortex, is common to all rodents and possibly most mammals. RM and RL divisions of the pulvinar complex also appear to have homologues in other rodents.
superior colliculus; pulvinar; dorsal thalamus; lateral geniculate nucleus; rodents
The ANP32 family of proteins have been implicated in neuronal function through biochemical and cellular biology studies in neurons, as well as by recent behavioural studies of a gene-trapped loss-of-function mutation of Anp32e in mice, particularly with respect to fine motor function. A second targeted allele of the Anp32e, however, did not appear to demonstrate neurological phenotypes.
Using a stringently controlled cohort of ten-generation backcrossed, co-caged, sex-matched, littermate pairs, we assayed for potential motor defects in the targeted ANP32E-deficient mice. We found no phenotypic difference in any assays.
Since it is unlikely that the gene-trap is a more complete loss-of-function, our results suggest that ANP32E has no appreciable effect on motor functions and that genetic background differences most likely account for the gene-trap phenomena.
Pregnenolone belongs to a class of endogenous neurosteroids in the central nervous system (CNS), which has been suggested to enhance cognitive functions through GABAA receptor signaling by its metabolites. It has been shown that the level of pregnenolone is altered in certain brain areas of schizophrenic patients, and clozapine enhances pregnenolone in the CNS in rats, suggesting that pregnenolone could be used to treat certain symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition, early phase proof-of-concept clinical trials have indicated that pregnenolone is effective in reducing the negative symptoms and cognitive deficits of schizophrenia patients. Here, we evaluate the actions of pregnenolone on a mouse model for schizophrenia, the dopamine transporter knockout mouse (DAT KO). DAT KO mice mirror certain symptoms evident in patients with schizophrenia, such as the psychomotor agitation, stereotypy, deficits of prepulse inhibition and cognitive impairments. Following acute treatment, pregnenolone was found to reduce the hyperlocomotion, stereotypic bouts and pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) deficits in DAT KO mice in a dose-dependent manner. At 60 mg/kg of pregnenolone, there were no significant differences in locomotor activities and stereotypy between wild-type and DAT KO mice. Similarly, acute treatment of 60 mg/kg of pregnenolone fully rescued PPI deficits of DAT KO mice. Following chronic treatment with pregnenolone at 60 mg/kg, the cognitive deficits of DAT KO mice were rescued in the paradigms of novel object recognition test and social transmission of food preference test. Pregnenolone thus holds promise as a therapeutic candidate in schizophrenia.
What are the rules relating the size of the brain and its structures to the number of cells that compose them and their average sizes? We have shown previously that the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and the remaining brain structures increase in size as a linear function of their numbers of neurons and non-neuronal cells across 6 species of primates. Here we describe that the cellular composition of the same brain structures of 5 other primate species, as well as humans, conform to the scaling rules identified previously, and that the updated power functions for the extended sample are similar to those determined earlier. Accounting for phylogenetic relatedness in the combined dataset does not affect the scaling slopes that apply to the cerebral cortex and cerebellum, but alters the slope for the remaining brain structures to a value that is similar to that observed in rodents, which raises the possibility that the neuronal scaling rules for these structures are shared among rodents and primates. The conformity of the new set of primate species to the previous rules strongly suggests that the cellular scaling rules we have identified apply to primates in general, including humans, and not only to particular subgroups of primate species. In contrast, the allometric rules relating body and brain size are highly sensitive to the particular species sampled, suggesting that brain size is neither determined by body size nor together with it, but is rather only loosely correlated with body size.
Allometry; Brain size; Evolution; Glia, number; Neurons, number; Primates
In the present study, galago brains were sectioned in the coronal, sagittal or horizontal planes, and sections were processed with several different histochemical and immunohistochemical procedures to reveal the architectonic characteristics of the various cortical areas. The histochemical methods used included the traditional Nissl, cytochrome oxidase and myelin stains, as well as a zinc stain, which reveals free ionic zinc in the axon terminals of neurons. Immunohistochemical methods include parvalbumin (PV) and calbindin (CB), both calcium-binding proteins, and the vesicle glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2). These different procedures revealed similar boundaries between areas, which suggests that functionally relevant borders were being detected. These results allowed a more precise demarcation of previously identified areas. As thalamocortical terminations lack free ionic zinc, primary cortical areas were most clearly revealed by the zinc stain, due to the poor zinc staining of layer 4. Area 17 was especially prominent, as the broad layer 4 was nearly free of zinc stain. However, this feature was less pronounced in the primary auditory and somatosensory cortex. As VGluT2 is expressed in thalamocortical terminations, layer 4 of primary sensory areas was darkly stained for VGluT2. Primary motor cortex had reduced VGluT2 staining, and increased zinc-enriched terminations in the poorly developed granular layer 4 compared to the adjacent primary somatosensory area. The middle temporal visual (MT) showed increased PV and VGluT2 staining compared to the surrounding cortical areas. The resulting architectonic maps of cortical areas in galagos can usefully guide future studies of cortical organizations and functions.
primate; cortical areas; visual cortex; motor cortex; somatosensory cortex; auditory cortex; prosimian
Squirrels are highly visual mammals with an expanded cortical visual system and a number of well-differentiated architectonic fields. In order to describe and delimit cortical fields, subdivisions of cortex were reconstructed from serial brain sections cut in the coronal, sagittal, or horizontal planes. Architectonic characteristics of cortical areas were visualized after brain sections were processed with immunohistochemical and histochemical procedures for revealing parvalbumin, calbindin, neurofilament protein, vesicle glutamate transporter 2, limbic-associated membrane protein, synaptic zinc, cytochrome oxidase, myelin or Nissl substance. In general, these different procedures revealed similar boundaries between areas, suggesting that functionally relevant borders were being detected. The results allowed a more precise demarcation of previously identified areas as well as the identification of areas that had not been previously described. Primary sensory cortical areas characterized by sparse zinc staining of layer 4, as thalamocortical terminations lack zinc, as well as by layer 4 terminations rich in parvalbumin and vesicle glutamate transporter 2. Primary areas also expressed higher levels of cytochrome oxidase and myelin. Primary motor cortex was associated with large SMI-32 labeled pyramidal cells in layers 3 and 5. Our proposed organization of cortex in grey squirrels includes both similarities and differences to the proposed of cortex in other rodents such as mice and rats. The presence of a number of well-differentiated cortical areas in squirrels may serve as a guide to the identification of homologous fields in other rodents, as well as a useful guide in further studies of cortical organization and function.
Rodents; cortical areas; visual cortex; motor cortex; somatosensory cortex; auditory cortex; cingulate cortex; retrosplenial cortex
Tree shrews are small mammals that bear some semblance to squirrels, but are actually close relatives of primates. Thus, they have been extensively studied as a model for the early stages of primate evolution. In the present study, subdivisions of cortex were reconstructed from brain sections cut in the coronal, sagittal or horizontal planes, and processed for parvalbumin (PV), SMI-32 immunopositive neurofilament protein epitopes, vesicle glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2), free ionic zinc, myelin, cytochrome oxidase (CO) and Nissl substance. These different procedures revealed similar boundaries between areas, suggesting the detection of functionally relevant borders and allowed a more precise demarcation of cortical areal boundaries. Primary cortical areas were most clearly revealed by the zinc stain, due to the poor staining of layer 4, as thalamocortical terminations lack free ionic zinc. Area 17 (V1) was especially prominent, as the broad layer 4 was nearly free of zinc stain. However, this feature was less pronounced in primary auditory and somatosensory, cortex. In primary sensory areas, thalamocortical terminations in layer 4 densely express VGluT2. Auditory cortex consists of two architectonically distinct subdivisions, a primary core region (Ac), surrounded by a belt region (Ab) that had a slightly less developed koniocellular appearance. Primary motor cortex (M1) was identified by the absence of VGluT2 staining in the poorly developed granular layer 4 and the presence of SMI-32 labeled pyramidal cells in layers 3 and 5. The presence of well-differentiated cortical areas in tree shrews indicates their usefulness in studies of cortical organization and function.
Rodents; primates; cortical areas; visual cortex; motor cortex; somatosensory cortex; auditory cortex; cingulate cortex; retrosplenial cortex; insular cortex
The temporal cortex of grey squirrels contains three architectonically distinct regions. One of these regions, the temporal anterior (Ta) region has been identified in previous physiological and anatomical studies as containing several areas that are largely auditory in function. Consistent with this evidence, Ta has architectonic features that are internally somewhat variable, but overall sensory in nature. In contrast, the caudally adjoining temporal intermediate region (Ti) has architectonic features that suggest higher order and possibly multisensory processing. Finally, the most caudal region, composed of previously defined temporal medial (Tm) and temporal posterior (Tp) fields, again has more of the appearance of sensory cortex. To better understand their functional roles, we injected anatomical tracers into these regions to reveal their thalamic connections. As expected, the dorsal portion of Ta, containing two primary or primary-like auditory areas, received inputs from the ventral and magnocellular divisions of the auditory medial geniculate complex, MGv and MGm. The most caudal region, Tm plus Tp, received inputs from the large visual pulvinar of squirrels, possibly accounting for the sensory architectonic characteristics of this region. However, Tp additionally receives inputs from the magnocellular (MGm) and dorsal (MGd) divisions of the medial geniculate complex, implicating Tp in bisensory processing. Finally, the middle region, Ti, had auditory inputs from MGd and MGm, but not from the visual pulvinar, providing evidence that Ti has higher-order auditory functions. The results indicate that the architectonically distinct regions of temporal cortex of squirrels are also functionally distinct. Understanding how temporal cortex is functionally organized in squirrels can guide interpretations of temporal cortex organization in other rodents where architectonic subdivisions are not as obvious.
visual cortex; auditory cortex; multisensory cortex; lateral geniculate nucleus; pulvinar; rodents; medial geniculate; suprageniculate