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International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1002–1031 | Cite as

Overview of Sensory Systems of Tarsius

  • Peiyan Wong
  • Christine E. Collins
  • Jon H. Kaas
Article

Abstract

Tarsiers form the sister taxon to anthropoid primates, and their brains possess a mix of primitive and specialized features. We describe architectonically distinct subdivisions of the somatosensory, auditory, and visual systems for tarsiers, as well as nocturnal New World owl monkeys (Aotus) and strepsirhine galagos (Otolemur) for comparison. In general, the dorsal column nuclei, the ventroposterior nucleus, and primary somatosensory cortex are somewhat less distinctly differentiated in tarsiers, suggesting that the somatosensory system is less specialized for somatosensory processing. Although the inferior colliculus and the medial geniculate complex of the auditory system are architectonically similar across the 3 primates, the primary auditory cortex of tarsiers is more distinct, suggesting a greater role in auditory cortical processing. In the visual system, the differentiation of the superior colliculus is similar in all 3 primates, whereas the laminar pattern in the lateral geniculate nucleus and the subdivisions of the inferior pulvinar in tarsiers resemble those of anthropoid primates rather than strepsirhines, in agreement with the evidence that tarsiers form the sister clade for anthropoids. In addition, primary visual cortex has more distinct sublayers in tarsiers than other primates, attesting to its importance in this visual predator. Overall, tarsiers have well developed visual and auditory systems, and a less well developed somatosensory system, suggesting an enhanced reliance on the visual and auditory senses, rather than somatosensory sense.

Keywords

auditory cortex cortical areas lateral geniculate nucleus medial geniculate nucleuprimates somatosensory cortex ventroposterior nucleus visual cortex 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. Anita Hendrickson for providing 3 adult brains of Tarsius spectrum for histological study. The fourth brain was from the histological collection of Dr. J. M. Petras. We thank the reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. Funds to support this research were from Vanderbilt University to J. H. Kaas and a grant from the National Eye Institute, EY 02686 to J. H. Kaas.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peiyan Wong
    • 1
  • Christine E. Collins
    • 1
  • Jon H. Kaas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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