Data from: Functional MRI in the Nile crocodile: a new avenue for evolutionary neurobiology
Behroozi, Mehdi et al. (2018), Data from: Functional MRI in the Nile crocodile: a new avenue for evolutionary neurobiology, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6107210
Crocodilians are important for understanding the evolutionary history of amniote neural systems as they are the nearest extant relatives of modern birds and share a stem amniote ancestor with mammals. Although the crocodilian brain has been investigated anatomically, functional studies are rare. Here we employed fMRI, never tested in poikilotherms, to investigate crocodilian telencephalic sensory processing. Juvenile Crocodylus niloticus were placed in a 7T MRI scanner to record BOLD signal changes during presentation of visual as well as auditory stimuli. Visual stimulation increased BOLD signals in rostral to mid-caudal portions of the dorso-lateral anterior dorsal ventricular ridge (ADVR). Simple auditory stimuli led to signal increase in the rostromedial and caudocentral ADVR. These activation patterns are in line with previously described projection fields of diencephalic sensory fibers. Furthermore, complex auditory stimuli activated additional regions of the caudomedial ADVR. The recruitment of these additional, presumably higher-order, sensory areas reflect observations made in birds and mammals. Our results indicate that structural and functional aspects of sensory processing have been likely conserved during the evolution of sauropsids. In addition, our study shows that fMRI can be utilized to investigate neural processing in poikilotherms, providing a new avenue for neurobiological research in these critical species.