Task-based fMRI of a free-viewing visuo-saccadic network in the marmoset monkey

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© 2019 Elsevier Inc. Saccadic tasks are often used to index aberrations of cognitive function in patient populations, with several neuropsychiatric and neurologic disorders characterized by saccadic dysfunction. The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) has received recent attention as an additional primate model for studying the neural basis of these dysfunctions – marmosets are amenable to a host of genetic manipulation techniques and have a lissencephalic cortex, which is well suited for a variety of recording techniques (e.g., calcium imaging, laminar electrophysiology). Because the marmoset cortex is mostly lissencephalic, however, the locations of frontal saccade-related regions (e.g., frontal eye fields (FEF)) are less readily identified than in Old World macaque monkeys. Further, although high quality histology-based atlases do exist for marmosets, identifying these regions based on histology alone is not always accurate, with the cytoarchitectonic boundaries often inconsonant with functional boundaries. As such, there is a need to map the functional location of these regions directly. Task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is of utility in this regard, allowing for detection of whole-brain signal changes in response to moving stimuli. Here, we conducted task-based fMRI in marmosets at ultra-high field (9.4 T) during a free-viewing visuo-saccadic task. We also conducted the same task in humans at ultra-high field (7 T) to validate that our simple task was indeed evoking the visuo-saccadic circuitry we expected (as defined by a meta-analysis of fMRI saccade studies). In the marmosets, we found that the task evoked a robust visuo-saccadic topology, with visual cortex (V1, V2, V3, V4) activation extending ventrally to MT, MST, FST and dorsally into V6, 19M, 23V. This topology also included putative cingulate eye field (area 32 and 24d), posterior parietal cortex (with strongest activation in lateral intraparietal area (LIP)), and a frontolateral peak in area 8 aV in marmosets, extending into 45, 46, 8aD, 6DR, 8c, 6 aV, 6DC. Overall, these results support the view that marmosets are a promising preclinical modelling species for studying saccadic dysfunction related to neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative human brain diseases.

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