Functional MRI and functional connectivity of the visual system of awake pigeons
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Behavioural brain research. - Amsterdam
, p. 43-50
University of Antwerp
At present, functional MRI (fMRI) is increasingly used in animal research but the disadvantage is that the majority of the imaging is applied in anaesthetized animals. Only a few articles present results obtained in awake rodents. In this study both traditional fMRI and resting state (rsfMRI) were applied to four pigeons, that were trained to remain still while being imaged, removing the need for anesthesia. This is the first time functional connectivity measurements are performed in a non-mammalian species. Since the visual system of pigeons is a well-known model for brain asymmetry, the focus of the study was on the neural substrate of the visual system. For fMRI a visual stimulus was used and functional connectivity measurements were done with the entopallium (E; analog for the primary visual cortex) as a seed region. Interestingly in awake pigeons the left E was significantly functionally connected to the right E. Moreover we compared connectivity maps for a seed region in both hemispheres resulting in a stronger bilateral connectivity starting from left E then from right E. These results could be used as a starting point for further imaging studies in awake birds and also provide a new window into the analysis of hemispheric dominance in the pigeon.