Topography of the chimpanzee corpus callosum

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Abstract

The corpus callosum (CC) is the largest commissural white matter tract in mammalian brains, connecting homotopic and heterotopic regions of the cerebral cortex. Knowledge of the distribution of callosal fibers projecting into specific cortical regions has important implications for understanding the evolution of lateralized structures and functions of the cerebral cortex. No comparisons of CC topography in humans and great apes have yet been conducted. We investigated the topography of the CC in 21 chimpanzees using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Tractography was conducted based on fiber assignment by continuous tracking (FACT) algorithm. We expected chimpanzees to display topographical organization similar to humans, especially concerning projections into the frontal cortical regions. Similar to recent studies in humans, tractography identified five clusters of CC fibers projecting into defined cortical regions: prefrontal; premotor and supplementary motor; motor; sensory; parietal, temporal and occipital. Significant differences in fractional anisotropy (FA) were found in callosal regions, with highest FA values in regions projecting to higher-association areas of posterior cortical (including parietal, temporal and occipital cortices) and prefrontal cortical regions (p<0.001). The lowest FA values were seen in regions projecting into motor and sensory cortical areas. Our results indicate chimpanzees display similar topography of the CC as humans, in terms of distribution of callosal projections and microstructure of fibers as determined by anisotropy measures.

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Phillips, K. A., & Hopkins, W. D. (2012). Topography of the chimpanzee corpus callosum. PLoS ONE, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031941

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