Cortical adaptation of the night monkey to a nocturnal niche environment: a comparative non-invasive T1w/T2w myelin study

Takuro Ikeda, Joonas A. Autio, Akihiro Kawasaki, Chiho Takeda, Takayuki Ose, Masahiko Takada, David C. Van Essen, Matthew F. Glasser, Takuya Hayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Night monkeys (Aotus) are the only genus of monkeys within the Simian lineage that successfully occupy a nocturnal environmental niche. Their behavior is supported by their sensory organs’ distinctive morphological features; however, little is known about their evolutionary adaptations in sensory regions of the cerebral cortex. Here, we investigate this question by exploring the cortical organization of night monkeys using high-resolution in-vivo brain MRI and comparative cortical-surface T1w/T2w myeloarchitectonic mapping. Our results show that the night monkey cerebral cortex has a qualitatively similar but quantitatively different pattern of cortical myelin compared to the diurnal macaque and marmoset monkeys. T1w/T2w myelin and its gradient allowed us to parcellate high myelin areas, including the middle temporal complex (MT +) and auditory cortex, and a low-myelin area, Brodmann area 7 (BA7) in the three species, despite species differences in cortical convolutions. Relative to the total cortical-surface area, those of MT + and the auditory cortex are significantly larger in night monkeys than diurnal monkeys, whereas area BA7 occupies a similar fraction of the cortical sheet in all three species. We propose that the selective expansion of sensory areas dedicated to visual motion and auditory processing in night monkeys may reflect cortical adaptations to a nocturnal environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1123
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Area MT
  • Auditory cortex
  • Comparative neuroanatomy
  • Myelin
  • Night monkey
  • Primate


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