Change in the timeline of neurobiological growth is an important source of biological variation, and thus phenotypic evolution. However, no study has to date investigated sensory system development in any of the prosimian primates that are thought to most closely resemble our earliest primate ancestors. Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter critical to normal brain function by regulating synaptic plasticity associated with attention and learning. Myelination is an important structural component of the brain because it facilitates rapid neuronal communication. In this work we investigated the expression of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and the density of myelinated axons throughout postnatal development in the inferior colliculus (IC), medial geniculate complex (MGC), and auditory cortex (auditory core, belt, and parabelt) in Garnett's greater galago (Otolemur garnetti). We found that the IC and MGC exhibit relatively high myelinated fiber length density (MFLD) values at birth and attain adult-like values by the species-typical age at weaning. In contrast, neocortical auditory fields are relatively unmyelinated at birth and only attain adult-like MFLD values by the species-typical age at puberty. Analysis of AChE expression indicated that, in contrast to evidence from rodent samples, the adult-like distribution of AChE in the core area of auditory cortex, dense bands in layers I, IIIb/IV, and Vb/VI, is present at birth. These data indicate the differential developmental trajectory of central auditory system structures and demonstrate the early onset of adult-like AChE expression in primary auditory cortex in O. garnetti, suggesting the auditory system is more developed at birth in primates compared to rodents.
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