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J Neurosci Methods. 2007 May 15;162(1-2):162-70. Epub 2007 Jan 18.

A new coordinate system for rodent brain and variability in the brain weights and dimensions of different ages in the naked mole-rat.

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Biology Department, The City College of New York, 138th Street & Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031, USA.


Traditionally, the skull landmarks, i.e., bregma, lambda, and the interaural line, are the origins of the coordinate system for almost all rodent brain atlases. The disadvantages of using a skull landmark as an origin are: (i) there are differences among individuals in the alignment between the skull and the brain; (ii) the shapes of sutures, on which a skull landmark is determined, are different for different animals; (iii) the skull landmark is not clear for some animals. Recently, the extreme point of the entire brain (the tip of the olfactory bulb) has also been used as the origin for an atlas coordinate system. The accuracy of stereotaxically locating a brain structure depends on the relative distance between the structure and the reference point of the coordinate. The disadvantages of using the brain extreme as an origin are that it is located far from most brain structures and is not readily exposed during most in vivo procedures. To overcome these disadvantages, this paper introduces a new coordinate system for the brain of the naked mole-rat. The origin of this new coordinate system is a landmark directly on the brain: the intersection point of the posterior edges of the two cerebral hemispheres. This new coordinate system is readily applicable to other rodent species and is statistically better than using bragma and lambda as reference points. It is found that the body weight of old naked mole-rats is significantly bigger than that of young animals. However, the old naked mole-rat brain is not significantly heavier than that of young animal. Both brain weight and brain length vary little among animals of different weights. The disadvantages of current definition of "significant" are briefly discussed and a new expression that describes more objectively the result of statistical test is brought up and used.

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