Anatomical analysis of an aye-aye brain (Daubentonia madagascariensis, primates: Prosimii) combining histology, structural magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion-tensor imaging

Anat Rec A Discov Mol Cell Evol Biol. 2005 Nov;287(1):1026-37. doi: 10.1002/ar.a.20264.


This report presents initial results of a multimodal analysis of tissue volume and microstructure in the brain of an aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis). The left hemisphere of an aye-aye brain was scanned using T2-weighted structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) prior to histological processing and staining for Nissl substance and myelinated fibers. The objectives of the experiment were to estimate the volume of gross brain regions for comparison with published data on other prosimians and to validate DTI data on fiber anisotropy with histological measurements of fiber spread. Measurements of brain structure volumes in the specimen are consistent with those reported in the literature: the aye-aye has a very large brain for its body size, a reduced volume of visual structures (V1 and LGN), and an increased volume of the olfactory lobe. This trade-off between visual and olfactory reliance is likely a reflection of the nocturnal extractive foraging behavior practiced by Daubentonia. Additionally, frontal cortex volume is large in the aye-aye, a feature that may also be related to its complex foraging behavior and sensorimotor demands. Analysis of DTI data in the anterior cingulum bundle demonstrates a strong correlation between fiber spread as measured from histological sections and fiber spread as measured from DTI. These results represent the first quantitative comparison of DTI data and fiber-stained histology in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Body Size
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Strepsirhini / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology