PI: Stefan EverlinG

Laboratory for Neural Circuits and Cognitive Control

Recent Papers from the lab

​​With the medial frontal cortex (MFC) centrally implicated in several major neuropsychiatric disorders, it is critical to understand the extent to which MFC organization is comparable between humans and animals commonly used in preclinical research (namely rodents and nonhuman primates). Although the cytoarchitectonic structure of the rodent MFC has mostly been conserved in humans, it is a long-standing question whether the structural analogies translate to functional analogies. Here, we probed this question using ultra high field fMRI data to compare rat, marmoset, and human MFC functional connectivity. First, we applied hierarchical clustering to intrinsically define the functional boundaries of the MFC in all three species, independent of cytoarchitectonic definitions. Then, we mapped the functional connectivity "fingerprints" of these regions with a number of different brain areas. Because rats do not share cytoarchitectonically defined regions of the lateral frontal cortex (LFC) with primates, the fingerprinting method also afforded the unique ability to compare the rat MFC and marmoset LFC, which have often been suggested to be functional analogs. The results demonstrated remarkably similar intrinsic functional organization of the MFC across the species, but clear differences between rodent and primate MFC whole-brain connectivity. Rat MFC patterns of connectivity showed greatest similarity with premotor regions in the marmoset, rather than dorsolateral prefrontal regions, which are often suggested to be functionally comparable. These results corroborate the viability of the marmoset as a preclinical model of human MFC dysfunction, and suggest divergence of functional connectivity between rats and primates in both the MFC and LFC.

Resting-state functional MRI (RS-fMRI) is widely used to assess how strongly different brain areas are connected. However, this connection obtained by RS-fMRI, which is called functional connectivity (FC), simply refers to the correlation of blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals across time it has yet to be quantified how accurately FC reflects cellular connectivity (CC). In this study, we elucidated this relationship using RS-fMRI and quantitative tracer data in marmosets. In addition, we also elucidated the effects of distance between two brain regions on the relationship between FC and CC across seed region. To calculate FC, we used full correlation approach that is considered to reflect not only direct (monosynaptic connections) but also indirect pathways (polysynaptic connections). Our main findings are that: (1) overall FC obtained by RS-fMRI was highly correlated with tracer-based CC, but correlation coefficients varied remarkably across seed regions; (2) the strength of FC decreased with increase in the distance between two regions; (3) correlation coefficients between FC and CC after regressing out the effects of the distance between two regions still varied across seed regions, but some regions have strong correlations. These findings suggest that although FC reflects the strength of monosynaptic pathways, it is strongly affected by the distance between regions.

Visual extinction has been characterized by the failure to respond to a visual stimulus in the contralesional hemifield when presented simultaneously with an ipsilesional stimulus (Corbetta and Shulman, 2011). Unilateral damage to the macaque frontoparietal cortex commonly leads to deficits in contralesional target selection that resemble visual extinction. Recently, we showed that macaque monkeys with unilateral lesions in the caudal prefrontal cortex (PFC) exhibited contralesional target selection deficits that recovered over 2-4 months (Adam et al., 2019). Here, we investigated the longitudinal changes in functional connectivity (FC) of the frontoparietal network after a small or large right caudal PFC lesion in four macaque monkeys. We collected ultra-high field resting-state fMRI at 7-T before the lesion and at weeks 1-16 post-lesion and compared the functional data with behavioural performance on a free-choice saccade task. We found that the pattern of frontoparietal network FC changes depended on lesion size, such that the recovery of contralesional extinction was associated with an initial increase in network FC that returned to baseline in the two small lesion monkeys, whereas FC continued to increase throughout recovery in the two monkeys with a larger lesion. We also found that the FC between contralesional dorsolateral PFC and ipsilesional parietal cortex correlated with behavioural recovery and that the contralesional dorsolateral PFC showed increasing degree centrality with the frontoparietal network. These findings suggest that both the contralesional and ipsilesional hemispheres play an important role in the recovery of function. Importantly, optimal compensation after large PFC lesions may require greater recruitment of distant and intact areas of the frontoparietal network, whereas recovery from smaller lesions was supported by a normalization of the functional network.

Last updated: 21.8.2020