Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Marmoset Monkeys

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ILAR journal





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The use of the common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus) for neuroscientific research has grown markedly in the last decade. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has played a significant role in establishing the extent of comparability of marmoset brain architecture with the human brain and brains of other preclinical species (eg, macaques and rodents). As a non-invasive technique, MRI allows for the flexible acquisition of the same sequences across different species in vivo, including imaging of whole-brain functional topologies not possible with more invasive techniques. Being one of the smallest New World primates, the marmoset may be an ideal nonhuman primate species to study with MRI. As primates, marmosets have an elaborated frontal cortex with features analogous to the human brain, while also having a small enough body size to fit into powerful small-bore MRI systems typically employed for rodent imaging; these systems offer superior signal strength and resolution. Further, marmosets have a rich behavioral repertoire uniquely paired with a lissencephalic cortex (like rodents). This smooth cortical surface lends itself well to MRI and also other invasive methodologies. With the advent of transgenic modification techniques, marmosets have gained significant traction as a powerful complement to canonical mammalian modelling species. Marmosets are poised to make major contributions to preclinical investigations of the pathophysiology of human brain disorders as well as more basic mechanistic explorations of the brain. The goal of this article is to provide an overview of the practical aspects of implementing MRI and fMRI in marmosets (both under anesthesia and fully awake) and discuss the development of resources recently made available for marmoset imaging.