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The growth of cat cerebral cortex in postnatal life: a magnetic resonance imaging study


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    Present address: W. M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, Department of Physiology, University of California, 513 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143–0444, USA.

: Dr Siegrid Löwel, *at present address below.


To follow up the development of an individual brain over time and to measure its growth we have analysed the brains of individual cats from postnatal day 12 to adulthood using magnetic resonance imaging. From the anatomical images, four parameters were calculated: anteroposterior extent of the telencephalon, brain volume, neocortical surface area and neocortical volume. The development of the anteroposterior extent was similar in all cats. It increased between the 3rd and 6th postnatal week from 33 to 37.5 mm ending up ≈ 40 mm in adulthood. The brain volume showed greater variability. On average, the volume increased from 11.5 to 16.5 cm3 in the same period. Adult values were ≈ 19 cm3. Considerable interindividual variability was observed in neocortical surface area. In one cat, it expanded from 12.5 to 26 cm2 between days 14 and 41. In another cat, this area expanded from 16 to 24.5 cm2 between days 12 and 40. On average, the surface area expanded by 34% between the 3rd and 6th week. Adult values ranged from 27 to 30 cm2. Neocortical volume increased from 2.9 to 4.1 cm3 between the 3rd and 6th postnatal week and to 4.5–5.2 cm3 in adulthood. The asymmetry between the hemispheres in both neocortical surface area and volume was < 3% in all animals for most of the observation period. Comparison of the neocortical surface measurements with data on postnatal growth of cat primary visual cortex obtained by 2-deoxyglucose autoradiography indicates that the primary visual cortex grows at the same speed and amounts to ≈ 15% of the entire neocortical surface area throughout development.

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