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Anat Embryol (Berl). 2001 Oct;204(4):319-32.

Three-dimensional computerised atlas of the rat brain stem precerebellar system: approaches for mapping, visualization, and comparison of spatial distribution data.

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Department of Anatomy, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Norway.


Comparisons of microscopical neuroanatomic data from different experiments and investigators are typically hampered by the use of different section planes and dissimilar techniques for data documentation. We have developed a framework for visualization and comparison of section-based, spatial distribution data, in brain stem nuclei. This framework provides opportunities for harmonized data presentation in neuroinformatics databases. Three-dimensional computerized reconstructions of the rat brain stem and precerebellar nuclei served as a basis for establishing internal coordinate systems for the pontine nuclei and the precerebellar divisions of the sensory trigeminal nuclei. Coordinate based diagrams were used for presentation of experimental data (spatial distribution of labelled neurons and axonal plexuses) from standard angles of view. Each nuclear coordinate system was based on a cuboid bounding box with a defined orientation. The bounding box was size-adjusted to touch cyto- and myeloarchitectonically defined boundaries of the individual nuclei, or easily identifiable nearby landmarks. We exemplify the use of these internal coordinate systems with dual retrograde neural tracing data from pontocerebellar and trigeminocerebellar systems. The new experimental data were combined, in the same coordinate based diagrams, with previously published data made available via a neuroinformatics data repository (, see also Three-dimensional atlasing, internal nuclear coordinate systems, and consistent formats for presentation of neuroanatomic data in web-based data repositories, offer new opportunities for efficient analysis and re-analysis of neuroanatomic data.

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