Diffusion tensor imaging-based characterization of brain neurodevelopment in primates

Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jan;23(1):36-48. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr372. Epub 2012 Jan 23.


Primate neuroimaging provides a critical opportunity for understanding neurodevelopment. Yet the lack of a normative description has limited the direct comparison with changes in humans. This paper presents for the first time a cross-sectional diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) study characterizing primate brain neurodevelopment between 1 and 6 years of age on 25 healthy undisturbed rhesus monkeys (14 male, 11 female). A comprehensive analysis including region-of-interest, voxel-wise, and fiber tract-based approach demonstrated significant changes of DTI properties over time. Changes in fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity, axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) exhibited a heterogeneous pattern across different regions as well as along fiber tracts. Most of these patterns are similar to those from human studies yet a few followed unique patterns. Overall, we observed substantial increase in FA and AD and a decrease in RD for white matter (WM) along with similar yet smaller changes in gray matter (GM). We further observed an overall posterior-to-anterior trend in DTI property changes over time and strong correlations between WM and GM development. These DTI trends provide crucial insights into underlying age-related biological maturation, including myelination, axonal density changes, fiber tract reorganization, and synaptic pruning processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology*
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Organ Size / physiology