Divergence of rodent and primate medial frontal cortex functional connectivity

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America





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© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. With the medial frontal cortex (MFC) centrally implicated in several major neuropsychiatric disorders, it is critical to understand the extent to which MFC organization is comparable between humans and animals commonly used in preclinical research (namely rodents and nonhuman primates). Although the cytoarchitectonic structure of the rodent MFC has mostly been conserved in humans, it is a long-standing question whether the structural analogies translate to functional analogies. Here, we probed this question using ultra high field fMRI data to compare rat, marmoset, and human MFC functional connectivity. First, we applied hierarchical clustering to intrinsically define the functional boundaries of the MFC in all three species, independent of cytoarchitectonic definitions. Then, we mapped the functional connectivity "fingerprints" of these regions with a number of different brain areas. Because rats do not share cytoarchitectonically defined regions of the lateral frontal cortex (LFC) with primates, the fingerprinting method also afforded the unique ability to compare the rat MFC and marmoset LFC, which have often been suggested to be functional analogs. The results demonstrated remarkably similar intrinsic functional organization of the MFC across the species, but clear differences between rodent and primate MFCwhole-brain connectivity. Rat MFC patterns of connectivity showed greatest similarity with premotor regions in the marmoset, rather than dorsolateral prefrontal regions, which are often suggested to be functionally comparable. These results corroborate the viability of the marmoset as a preclinical model of human MFC dysfunction, and suggest divergence of functional connectivity between rats and primates in both the MFC and LFC.


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