J Comp Neurol 2018 11 2;526(16):2511-2547. Epub 2018 Nov 2.
Division of Ecology & Evolution, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an established technique for neuroanatomical analysis, being particularly useful in the medical sciences. However, the application of MRI to evolutionary neuroscience is still in its infancy. Few magnetic resonance brain atlases exist outside the standard model organisms in neuroscience and no magnetic resonance atlas has been produced for any reptile brain. A detailed understanding of reptilian brain anatomy is necessary to elucidate the evolutionary origin of enigmatic brain structures such as the cerebral cortex. Here, we present a magnetic resonance atlas for the brain of a representative squamate reptile, the Australian tawny dragon (Agamidae: Ctenophorus decresii), which has been the subject of numerous ecological and behavioral studies. We used a high-field 11.74T magnet, a paramagnetic contrasting-enhancing agent and minimum-deformation modeling of the brains of thirteen adult male individuals. From this, we created a high-resolution three-dimensional model of a lizard brain. The 3D-MRI model can be freely downloaded and allows a better comprehension of brain areas, nuclei, and fiber tracts, facilitating comparison with other species and setting the basis for future comparative evolution imaging studies. The MRI model and atlas of a tawny dragon brain (Ctenophorus decresii) can be viewed online and downloaded using the Wiley Biolucida Server at wiley.biolucida.net.