Whole brain mapping of somatosensory responses in awake marmosets investigated with ultra-high-field fMRI

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Journal of Neurophysiology





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Copyright © 2020 the American Physiological Society The common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is a small-bodied New World primate that is becoming an important model to study brain functions. Despite several studies exploring the somatosensory system of marmosets, all results have come from anesthetized animals using invasive techniques and postmortem analyses. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility for getting high-quality and reproducible somatosensory mapping in awake marmosets with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We acquired fMRI sequences in four animals, while they received tactile stimulation (via air-puffs), delivered to the face, arm, or leg. We found a topographic body representation with the leg representation in the most medial part, the face representation in the most lateral part, and the arm representation between leg and face representation within areas 3a, 3b, and 1/2. A similar sequence from leg to face from caudal to rostral sites was identified in areas S2 and PV. By generating functional connectivity maps of seeds defined in the primary and second somatosensory regions, we identified two clusters of tactile representation within the posterior and midcingulate cortex. However, unlike humans and macaques, no clear somatotopic maps were observed. At the subcortical level, we found a somatotopic body representation in the thalamus and, for the first time in marmosets, in the putamen. These maps have similar organizations, as those previously found in Old World macaque monkeys and humans, suggesting that these subcortical somatotopic organizations were already established before Old and New World primates diverged. Our results show the first whole brain mapping of somatosensory responses acquired in a noninvasive way in awake marmosets.


A pre-print is available at BioRxiv at https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.05.238592

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