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Brain Behav Evol. 2009;74(2):110-20. doi: 10.1159/000235613. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Cytoarchitecture of a cichlid fish telencephalon.

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Department of Biology and Curriculum in Neurobiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Although the telencephalon of ray-finned fishes has garnered considerable attention from comparative neuroanatomists, detailed descriptions of telencephalic organization are available for only a few species. This necessarily limits our understanding of telencephalic evolution, particularly in light of the extraordinary diversity of ray-finned fishes. Thus, we have charted the cyctoarchitecture of the telencephalon of the African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia (Haplochromis) burtoni. We examined tissue sectioned in the transverse plane, and categorized cell groups based on size, shape, and staining intensity of cells, the density and distribution of cells, cell-poor zones, and relationship of cell groups to the anterior commissure and external sulci. In addition, to facilitate visualization of the transitions among cell groups, we aligned and animated a series of 100 sequential brain sections. We found that the A. burtoni telencephalon was similar to other percomorphs in being highly elaborated with many distinct cell groups. In the pallium, Dm, Dl, and Dc had a large number of cell groups, whereas Dd and Dp were more uniform. Although we recognized many similarities between the pallium of A. burtoni and other teleosts, we also recognized two cell groups (Dl-g and Dm-2) that might represent specializations of cichlids. We found that the subpallium had a similar organization to that of other ray-finned fishes.

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