NeuroImage (Jan 2024)

An easy-to-implement, non-invasive head restraint method for monkey fMRI

  • Reiji Tanaka,
  • Kei Watanabe,
  • Takafumi Suzuki,
  • Kae Nakamura,
  • Masaharu Yasuda,
  • Hiroshi Ban,
  • Ken-ichi Okada,
  • Shigeru Kitazawa

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 285
p. 120479


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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in behaving monkeys has a strong potential to bridge the gap between human neuroimaging and primate neurophysiology. In monkey fMRI, to restrain head movements, researchers usually surgically implant a plastic head-post on the skull. Although time-proven to be effective, this technique could create burdens for animals, including a risk of infection and discomfort. Furthermore, the presence of extraneous objects on the skull, such as bone screws and dental cement, adversely affects signals near the cortical surface. These side effects are undesirable in terms of both the practical aspect of efficient data collection and the spirit of “refinement” from the 3R's. Here, we demonstrate that a completely non-invasive fMRI scan in awake monkeys is possible by using a plastic head mask made to fit the skull of individual animals. In all of the three monkeys tested, longitudinal, quantitative assessment of head movements showed that the plastic mask has effectively suppressed head movements, and we were able to obtain reliable retinotopic BOLD signals in a standard retinotopic mapping task. The present, easy-to-make plastic mask has a strong potential to simplify fMRI experiments in awake monkeys, while giving data that is as good as or even better quality than that obtained with the conventional head-post method.