Imaging methods

International consortium outlines global vision for open-source NHP imaging database


In 2018, an international team of researchers, including Western University neuroscientists, Ravi Menon and Stefan Everling, developed the world’s first open-source database for non-human primate (NHP) brain imaging. Called the PRIMatE Data Exchange (PRIME-DE), it was the first open science resource for the neuroimaging community that aggregated the anatomical, functional and diffusion NHP MRI data sets from laboratories around the world.

In the last year, over 200 NHP data sets have been openly shared in the database, with the goal to increase this to 1,000 data sets over the next five years.

While the PRIMatE Data Exchange (PRIME-DE) has accelerated progress in data-sharing for NHP neuroimaging, advancement in this area has still been slow. In September 2019, the PRIME-DE consortium met to outline a global vision for open science in the NHP neuroimaging community. Four key domains were discussed and recommendations were released in the journal, Neuron in February.

Standardizing the data collection emerged as a main theme. It was confirmed that quality control strategies should be implemented for imaging techniques including custom and standard MRI coils.

“One problem is there’s a vast variety of techniques being used. Most labs are using conventional human coils. There are very few labs in the world – ours is one of them – who have developed much higher performance imaging tools,” said Ravi Menon, BrainsCAN Co-Scientific Director and Founding Director of the Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping at Robarts Research Institute. “Our spatial resolutions are quite different, so we’re working on a consensus to pull the data in meaningful ways.” 

It was also recommended that common terminology and metadata standards in NHP data acquisition are developed in order to ensure quality data. In addition, the community communicated a need to create a collection of analytical approaches, so researchers have a coordinated paradigm design, or consistent tasks, that can be used to collect the NHP neuroimaging data sets.

As for the future of the database, the PRIME-DE consortium sees large-scale NHP neuroimaging as having tremendous translational promise.

“It’s going to help us understand the circuitry underlying cognitive dysfunctions,” said Stefan Everling, Professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “It really helps us to visualize the circuitry and then we can use other techniques to manipulate the circuitry on a micro scale.”

For a full list of the consortium’s recommendations, see Neuron.

This work was supported by BrainsCAN, Brain Canada and CIHR Foundation grants.