Scientists closer to understanding evolution and development of the pulvinar

30 November 2018
Prof James Bourne and team's research article featured on the the front cover of JCN
Professor James Bourne, Group Leader at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, and his team have demonstrated that the pulvinar region in the nonhuman primate brain is more similar to human’s than previously predicted. 

The research paper, led by Early Career Researcher Dr Jihane Homman‐Ludiye, was chosen as the front cover feature article in the latest edition of the Journal for Comparative Neurology

The pulvinar is a cluster of neural cells in the thalamus, a small structure within the brain located just above the brain stem between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain. The main function of the thalamus is to relay motor and sensory signals, including visual signals, to the cerebral cortex, the largest region of the mammalian brain. 

It was previously proposed that the nonhuman primate and the human pulvinar develop according to very different processes, with a greatly reduced period of neuronal growth in nonhuman primates, compared to human. 

Professor James Bourne and him team investigated the development of the marmoset monkey’s pulvinar, demonstrating that it is more similar to human than previously predicted.

The team also identified a new set of developmental markers, which show the identity of pulvinar neurons, which could assist researchers to understand how the pulvinar evolved in human and nonhuman primates. The team hopes that through more investigation into these markers, we will be able to fill the many blanks in the evolution and development of the pulvinar. 

All animal research in Australia is conducted under the strictest scrutiny and follows the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement known as the 3Rs. Under these principles, animal-based research is only approved by a qualified animal ethics committee, which includes members of the lay public, welfare organisations and veterinarians. 

Professor James Bourne is a Chief Investigator with Stem Cells Australia.

For more information:
Read the research article.