Quantitative Assessment of Brain Volumes in Fish: Comparison of Methodologies Academic Article uri icon


  • When correlating brain areas with behavioral and environmental characteristics, a variety of techniques are employed. In fishes (elasmobranchs and teleosts), 2 methods, histology and the idealized ellipsoid and/or half-ellipsoid technique, are primarily used to calculate the volume of a brain area and therefore its relationship to social or ecological complexity. In this study on a perciform teleost, we have quantitatively compared brain volumes obtained using the conventional techniques of histology and approximating brain volume to an idealized ellipsoid (or half ellipsoid) and magnetic resonance imaging, an established clinical tool typically used for assessing brain volume in other vertebrates. Our results indicate that, when compared to brain volumes measured using magnetic resonance imaging of brain regions in situ, variations in brain shape and histological artifacts can lead to significant differences in brain volume, especially in the telencephalon and optic tecta. Consequently, in comparative studies of brain volumes, we advise caution when using the histological and/or ellipsoid methods to make correlations between brain area size and environmental, behavioral and social characteristics and, when possible, we propose the use of magnetic resonance imaging.

publication date

  • 2010