Tracking Development of the Corpus Callosum in Fetal and Early Postnatal Baboons Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Kimberley A Phillips 1, 2, 3, Peter Kochunov*, 2, 3
1 Department of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio Texas, USA
2 Research Imaging Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas, USA
3 Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas, USA

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© Phillips and Kochunov; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Research Imaging Institute Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, School of Medicine, 55 Wade Avenue, Catonsville, MD 21228; Tel: (410) 402-6110; Fax: (410) 402-6077; E-mail:


Although the maturation of the corpus callosum (CC) can serve as a sensitive marker for normative antenatal and postnatal brain development, little is known about its development across this critical period. While high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging can provide an opportunity to examine normative brain development in humans, concerns remain over the exposure of developing fetuses to non-essential imaging. Nonhuman primates can provide a valuable model for normative brain maturation. Baboons share several important developmental characteristics with humans, including a highly orchestrated pattern of cerebral development. Developmental changes in total CC area and its subdivisions were examined across the antenatal (weeks 17 – 26 of 28 weeks total gestation) and early postnatal (to week 32) period in baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis). Thirteen fetal and sixteen infant baboons were studied using high-resolution MRI. During the period of primary gyrification, the total area of the CC increased by a magnitude of five. By postnatal week 32, the total CC area attained only 51% of the average adult area. CC subdivisions showed non-uniform increases in area, throughout development. The splenium showed the most maturation by postnatal week 32, attaining 55% of the average adult value. The subdivisions of the genu and anterior midbody showed the least maturation by postnatal week 32, attaining 50% and 49% of the average adult area. Thus, the CC of baboons shows continued growth past the postnatal period. These age-related changes in the developing baboon CC are consistent with the developmental course in humans.

Keywords: Brain development, In-utero, Fetal MRI, Neurogenesis.