In the light of evolution: Principles of brain organization deduced from cross-species neuroimaging

Presented During:

Wednesday, June 26, 2024: 3:45 PM - 5:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom 104-105  

Poster No:


Submission Type:



James Pang1, Alex Fornito1, Martijn van den Heuvel2, Ting Xu3, Nicole Eichert4, James Pang1


1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 3Child Mind Institute, New York, USA, 4University of Oxford, Oxford, UK


James Pang, PhD  
Monash University
Melbourne, Australia

Additional Organizer:

Alex Fornito  
Monash University
Melbourne, Australia


Martijn van den Heuvel  
Vrije Universiteit
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ting Xu  
Child Mind Institute
New York, USA
Nicole Eichert  
University of Oxford
Oxford, UK
James Pang, PhD  
Monash University
Melbourne, Australia

Please describe the advantage of addressing the topic as a symposia:

A major challenge in neuroscience is to understand the organizational principles of brain structure and function, with a particular emphasis on the specific features of human brain organization that support our unique cognitive capacity. Ultimately, such an understanding must be grounded in evolution and can therefore only be obtained through comparative research. Recent advances in the imaging of non-human species, and the availability of diverse cellular and molecular data in these species, have afforded an unprecedented capacity for modern cross-species investigations. These advances have led to a rapid proliferation of studies comparing how specific properties of brain organization vary in animals that are related to varying degrees on the evolutionary tree. This rich field shows tremendous diversity in terms of the species, brain properties, and approaches studied.

Our symposium brings together speakers investigating different aspects of brain organization, using a blend of experimental and computational techniques applied to both humans and a diverse range of mammalian species (e.g., macaque, marmoset, chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, lemur, mouse, rat, squirrel, guinea pig). A symposium affords the ideal platform to bring together these different and balanced perspectives, offering attendees: (i) an overview of cutting-edge initiatives and approaches in cross-species neuroimaging; (ii) a demonstration of the power and utility of cross-species neuroimaging for understanding the human brain; (iii) an outline of open-source tools available for the community to use; and (iv) a discussion of open questions to inspire future research.

Provide a brief paragraph (roughly 250 words) describing the timeliness and importance of the topic and the desired learning outcomes.

Cross-species neuroimaging is a powerful approach to elucidate the similarities and differences in brain structure and function among different mammalian species, with the primary goal of understanding our uniquely human abilities and potentially developing new therapeutic targets for diseases. Animal studies have traditionally been species-centric and limited to common models such as mice, rats, and macaques. Advances in imaging acquisition have dramatically expanded the range of species that can be imaged across different taxonomic classes, allowing for more meaningful cross-species investigations. The OHBM community has traditionally been focused on studies of the human brain exclusively, and may not be aware of the potential that translational imaging offers for developing a deeper understanding, grounded in evolutionary theory, of different neuroimaging phenotypes. This symposium provides an excellent medium for participants from diverse backgrounds to appreciate the advantages of cross-species neuroimaging research and how they can be embedded within ongoing projects. It will highlight various repositories of high-quality species imaging data, the latest developments and tools, and the advantages of performing cross-species research, thus greatly expanding the analytic repertoire of the symposium’s participants.

List 2-3 specific learning objectives for the audience. Learning objectives are used for ACCME purposes.

1. Learn about cutting-edge approaches to compare the structural and functional organization of brains across species
2. Understand core methodologies and considerations relevant to cross-species neuroimaging research
3. Understand how to access and use publicly available data and software

Please identify your target audience (1-2 sentences).

Researchers from all academic levels and background who are interested in cross-species neuroimaging and emerging approaches to study the structural and functional organization of brains across species.

Please provide justification on why your speaker selection meets OHBM's selection criteria concerning diversity of speakers. As stated in our Code of Conduct, we explicitly honor diversity with respect to multiple factors including age, culture, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, political beliefs, profession, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Inclusion of speakers from traditionally under-represented groups/nations is particularly encouraged.

If no, please provide justification.
We have a balanced line-up of presenters with diverse career stages, genders, and geographical origins. Two speakers are early-career researchers (Drs Nicole Eichert and James Pang), one is a mid-career researcher (Dr Ting Xu), and one is an established researcher (Prof Martijn van den Heuvel). Our four speakers include two females and two males, located in three distinct continents (Europe, North America, Australia), and hailing from diverse ethnic backgrounds (European, Chinese, Filipino).