Corpus callosum morphology across the lifespan in baboons ( Papio anubis ): a cross-sectional study of relative mid-sagittal surface area and thickness


  • Westerhausen René
  • Meguerditchian Adrien

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The axons forming the corpus callosum enable integration and coordination of cognitive processing between the cerebral hemispheres. In the aging human brain, these functions are affected by progressive axon and myelin deteriorations, which results in a substantial atrophy of the midsagittal corpus callosum in old age. In non-human primates, these degenerative processes are less pronounced as previous morphometric studies on capuchin monkey, rhesus monkeys, and chimpanzees do not find old-age callosal atrophy. The objective of the present study was to extend these previous findings by studying the aging trajectory of the corpus callosum of the olive baboon ( Papio anubis ) across the lifespan. For this purpose, total relative (to forebrain volume) midsagittal area, subsectional area, and regional thickness of the corpus callosum was assessed in 91 male and female animals using non-invasive MRI-based morphometry. The studied age range was 2.5 to 26.6 years, and the sample included 11 old-age animals (above the age of 20 years). Fitting lifespan trajectories using general additive modelling (GAM) we found that the relative area of the total corpus callosum and the anterior subsection follow a positive linear trajectory. That is, both measures increased slowly but continuously from childhood into old age, and no stagnation of growth or decline was observed in old age. Thus, comparable with all other non-human primates studied to-date, baboons do not show callosal atrophy in old age. This observation lends supports to the notion that atrophy of the corpus callosum is a unique characteristic of human brain aging.

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