A diffusion tensor brain template for rhesus macaques.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a powerful and noninvasive imaging method for characterizing tissue microstructure and white matter organization in the brain. While it has been applied extensively in research studies of the human brain, DTI studies of non-human primates have been performed only recently. The growing application of DTI in rhesus monkey studies would significantly benefit from a standardized framework to compare findings across different studies. A very common strategy for image analysis is to spatially normalize (co-register) the individual scans to a representative template space. This paper presents the development of a DTI brain template, UWRMAC-DTI271, for adolescent Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) monkeys. The template was generated from 271 rhesus monkeys, collected as part of a unique brain imaging genetics study. It is the largest number of animals ever used to generate a computational brain template, which enables the generation of a template that has high image quality and accounts for variability in the species. The quality of the template is further ensured with the use of DTI-TK, a well-tested and high-performance DTI spatial normalization method in human studies. We demonstrated its efficacy in monkey studies for the first time by comparing it to other commonly used scalar-methods for DTI normalization. It is anticipated that this template will play an important role in facilitating cross-site voxelwise DTI analyses in Rhesus Macaques. Such analyses are crucial in investigating the role of white matter structure in brain function, development, and other psychopathological disorders for which there are well-validated non-human primate models.