​​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.

In humans and macaque monkeys, socially relevant face processing is accomplished via a distributed functional network that includes specialized patches in frontal cortex. It is unclear whether a similar network exists in New World primates, who diverged ~35 million years from Old World primates. The common marmoset is a New World primate species ideally placed to address this question given their complex social repertoire. Here, we demonstrate the existence of a putative high-level face processing network in marmosets. Like Old World primates, marmosets show differential activation in anterior cingulate and lateral prefrontal cortices while they view socially relevant videos of marmoset faces. We corroborate the locations of these frontal regions by demonstrating functional and structural connectivity between these regions and temporal lobe face patches. Given the evolutionary separation between macaques and marmosets, our results suggest this frontal network specialized for social face processing predates the separation between Platyrrhini and Catarrhini.

Understanding the similarity of cortico-subcortical networks topologies between humans and nonhuman primate species is critical to study the origin of network alternations underlying human neurologic and neuropsychiatric diseases. The New World common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) has become popular as a nonhuman primate model for human brain function. Most marmoset connectomic research, however, has exclusively focused on cortical areas, with connectivity to subcortical networks less extensively explored. Here, we aimed to first isolate patterns of subcortical connectivity with cortical resting-state networks in awake marmosets using resting-state fMRI, then to compare these networks with those in humans using connectivity fingerprinting. In this study, we used 5 marmosets (4 males, 1 female). While we could match several marmoset and human resting-state networks based on their functional fingerprints, we also found a few striking differences, for example, strong functional connectivity of the default mode network with the superior colliculus in marmosets that was much weaker in humans. Together, these findings demonstrate that many of the core cortico-subcortical networks in humans are also present in marmosets, but that small, potentially functionally relevant differences exist.

Recent Papers from the lab

PI: Stefan EverlinG

Laboratory for Neural Circuits and Cognitive Control

Last updated:16.12.2020