Imaging methods

Western University contributes to the first open-source NHP imaging database


BrainsCAN-aligned researchers have collaborated with an international team of researchers to develop the world’s first open-source data sets of non-human primate (NHP) brain imaging. Published in the prestigious journal Neuron, the PRIMatE Data Exchange (PRIME-DE) is the first open science resource for the neuroimaging community that aims to aggregate and share anatomical, functional and diffusion MRI data sets from laboratories around the world. Over 200 data sets will be openly shared via the International Neuroimaging Datasharing Initiative (INDI). The goal is to accelerate the development of a map of the neural connections in the NHP brain -- and, ultimately, the human brain -- in an effort to develop biomarkers for mental health disorders and other brain disorders and diseases.

Western University is one of two Canadian institutions providing data sets. BrainsCAN-aligned Western researchers, Ravi Menon and Stefan Everling contributed high-resolution structural and functional MRI data sets using unique in-house designed and built hardware on Canada’s only ultra-high field human MRI system located at the Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping (CFMM) at Robarts Research Institute. The scanning protocols are similar to those used in humans, which further aids the translational value of the Western University data.

“This novel database is a large collaboration between many different institutions,” said Ravi Menon, BrainsCAN Co-Scientific Director and Director of the CFMM. “No individual lab would be able to access as many data sets as this database allows. It’s enormously transformative for the neuroscience community.”

The PRIME-DE database gives the scientific community access to MRI data sets of NHPs from high-impact laboratories around the world. Neuroscience researchers from any institution are able to use the data sets to conduct cross-species analysis of the brain’s circuitry.

“This database gives neuroimaging researchers the opportunity to do analyses that we may have never thought of,” said Stefan Everling, a BrainsCAN-aligned researcher and Professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “This could lead to ground-breaking discoveries in cognitive neuroscience.”

The NHP data sets were supported by CIHR Foundation grants to Everling and to Menon, as well as a Brain Canada Platform Support Grant.