Article

A MEG investigation of somatosensory processing in the rhesus monkey

Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, USA
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 07/2009; 46(4):998-1003. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.03.029

ABSTRACT The use of minimally and non-invasive neuroimaging methods in animal models has sharply increased over the past decade. Such studies have enhanced understanding of the neural basis of the physical signals quantified by these tools, and have addressed an assortment of fundamental and otherwise intractable questions in neurobiology. To date, these studies have almost exclusively utilized positron-emission tomography or variants of magnetic resonance based imaging. These methods provide largely indirect measures of brain activity and are strongly reliant on intact vasculature and normal blood-flow, which is known to be compromised in many clinical conditions. The current study provides the first demonstration of whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG), a non-invasive and direct measure of neuronal activity, in a rhesus monkey, and in the process supplies the initial data on systems-level dynamics in somatosensory cortices. An adult rhesus monkey underwent three separate studies of tactile stimulation on the pad of the right second or fifth digit as whole-head MEG data were acquired. The neural generators of the primary neuromagnetic components were localized using an equivalent-current-dipole model. Second digit stimulation produced an initial cortical response peaking ∼ 16 ms after stimulus onset in the contralateral somatosensory cortices, with a later response at ∼ 96 ms in an overlapping or nearby neural area with a roughly orthogonal orientation. Stimulation of the fifth digit produced similar results, the main exception being a substantially weaker later response. We believe the 16 ms response is likely the monkey homologue of the human M50 response, as both are the earliest cortical response and localize to the contralateral primary somatosensory area. Thus, these data suggest that mechanoreception in nonhuman primates operates substantially faster than that in adult humans. More broadly, these results demonstrate that it is feasible to use current human whole-head MEG instrumentation to record neuromagnetic responses in adult rhesus monkeys. Nonhuman primate models of human disease provide the closest phylogenetic link to humans. The present, non-invasive imaging study could promote exciting translational integration of invasive animal studies and non-invasive human studies, allowing experimentally induced deficits and pharmacological treatments to be interpreted in light of resulting brain network interactions.

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