In the last decade, MRI studies of human brain morphometry have been used to investigate a multitude of pathologies and drug-related effects in psychiatric research. Better understanding of normal neural development is essential to gain a better understanding of the underlying pathology of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism or schizophrenia, as the timing of an insult into the developing brain is often critical in defining the resulting disorder. Nonhuman primates, and in particular macaque monkeys, have been widely used in animal models to investigate the neural substrates of human development in higher cognitive functions and complex social interactions. However, we lack crucial, detailed information of normal brain maturation in macaques, especially in the rapidly changing early stages. Matching maturational periods in humans with those in macaques aids us in establishing nonhuman primate translational models of developmental neuropathology. This project will provide three results: a) a developmental macaque brain MR database, b) the corresponding computational toolbox for cross-sectional and longitudinal atlas building and c) a comparative study contrasting human and macaque brain development and maturation patterns in both genders based on the former. The computational atlas building toolbox will be of translational nature as it is applied to the existing human NIH MRI database of normal brain development, as well as the proposed macaque brain development database. This longitudinal database will be acquired from a cohort of healthy macaque monkeys ranging from a few week olds up to 3-year-old adolescents. This grant is thus translational from a viewpoint of both the study of brain development as well as method and tool development. This creates an immensely valuable resource for primate researcher, as well as for the general neuroimaging field. The comparative study will allow us to characterize normal brain development in the rhesus macaque and compare it to human brain development. We expect that the efficient and cost-effective creation and dissemination of this unique database, the computational toolbox, along with the results from the developmental study will lead to the creation of many new translational primate models of developmental neuropathology worldwide.

Public Health Relevance

This project generates a publicly available resource comprised of a developmental macaque brain MRI database with the corresponding computational toolbox for brain atlas building. Based on this resource, a comparative study will contrast human and macaque brain development and maturation patterns in both genders. This constitutes a crucial resource for the neuroimaging field, which will enable many new developmental translational primate models for neuropathologies such as autism or schizophrenia.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Medical Imaging Study Section (MEDI)
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Freund, Michelle
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
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