Methods of MRI-based structural imaging in the aging monkey

Makris N, Kennedy DN, Boriel DL, Rosene DL

Methods 2010 Mar;50(3):166-77

PMID: 19577648


Rhesus monkeys, whose typical lifespan can be as long as 30 years in the presence of veterinary care, undergo a cognitive decline as a function of age. While cortical neurons are largely preserved in the cerebral cortex, including primary motor and visual cortex as well as prefrontal association cortex there is marked breakdown of axonal myelin and an overall reduction in white matter predominantly in the frontal and temporal lobes. Whether the myelin breakdown is diffuse or specific to individual white matter fiber pathways is important to be known with certainty. To this end the delineation and quantification of specific frontotemporal fiber pathways within the frontal and temporal lobes is essential to determine which structures are altered and the extent to which these alterations correlate with behavioral findings. The capability of studying the living brain non-invasively with MRI opens up a new window in structural-functional and anatomic-clinical relationships allowing the integration of information derived from different scanning modalities in the same subject. For instance, for any particular voxel in the cerebrum we can obtain structural T1-, diffusion- and magnetization transfer- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based information. Moreover, it is thus possible to follow any observed changes longitudinally over time. These acquisitions of multidimensional data in the same individual within the same MRI experimental setting would enable the creation of a data base of integrated structural MRI-behavioral correlations for normal aging monkeys to elucidate the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of functional senescence in the aging non-human primate.