Tree shrews are small mammals now commonly classified in the order of Scandentia, but have relatively closer affinity to primates than rodents. The species has a high brain-to-body mass ratio and relatively well-differentiated neocortex, and thus has been frequently used in neuroscience research, especially for studies on vision and neurological/psychiatric diseases. The available atlases on tree shrew brain provided only limited information on white matter (WM) anatomy. In this study, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to study the WM anatomy of tree shrew, with the goal to establish an image-based WM atlas. DTI and T2-weighted anatomical images were acquired in vivo and from fixed brain samples. Deterministic tractography was used for three-dimensional reconstruction and rendering of major WM tracts. Myelin and neurofilaments staining were used to study the microstructural properties of certain WM tracts. Taking into account prior knowledge on tree shrew neuroanatomy, tractography results, and comparisons to the homologous structures in rodents and primates, an image-based WM atlas of tree shrew brain was constructed, which is available to research community upon request.
Keywords: Atlas; Brain; Diffusion tensor imaging; Tree shrew; White matter.