The utility of DiceCT imaging for high-throughput comparative neuroanatomical studies

Paul M. Gignac, Nathan J. Kley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Advancements in imaging techniques have drastically improved our ability to visualize, study, and digitally share complex, often minute, anatomical relationships. The recent adoption of soft-tissue X-ray imaging techniques, such as diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography (diceCT), is beginning to offer previously unattainable insights into the detailed configurations of soft- tissue complexes across Metazoa. As a contrast agent, dissolved iodine diffuses deeply throughout preserved specimens to bind fats and carbohydrates that are natural ly present within metazoan soft tissues, increasing the radiodensities of these tissues in predictable ways. Like the current "gold standard" of magnetic resonance imaging, diceCT does not require physical dissection and can differentiate between the lipid content of myelinated versus nonmyelinated tissues, thereby offering great potential for neuroanatomical studies. Within the brain, for example, diceCT distinguishes myelinated fiber tracts from unmyelinated cortices, nuclei, and ganglia and allows three-dimensional visualization of their anatomical interrelationships at previously unrealized spatial scales. In this study, we illustrate the utility of diceCT for the rapid visualization of both external and internal brain anatomy in vertebrates - alongside the intact bones of the skull and the complete, undisturbed pathways of peripheral nerves, up to and including the target organs that they innervate. We demonstrate the transformative potential of this technique for developing high-resolution neuroanatomical datasets and describe best practices for imaging large numbers of specimens for broad evolutionary studies across vertebrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-190
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Alcoholic iodine
  • Brain
  • DiceCT
  • Gray matter
  • Lugol's iodine
  • Myelin
  • Neuroanatomical imaging
  • Radiological contrast agents
  • White matter
  • X-ray micro-CT scanning


Dive into the research topics of 'The utility of DiceCT imaging for high-throughput comparative neuroanatomical studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this