An introduction to cross-species comparative neuroimaging

Austin Benn Organizer
CNRS Université Paris Cité
Paris, Île-de-France 
Katherine BRYANT Co Organizer
Institute for Language,Communication and Brain Aix-Marseille Université
MARSEILLE, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 
Katja Heuer Co Organizer
Institut Pasteur
Paris, Paris 
Ting Xu Co Organizer
Child Mind Institute
New York, NY 
United States
Sunday, Jun 23: 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Educational Course - Half Day (4 hours) 
Room: ASEM Ballroom 201 
Cross-species studies often make cameos in the OHBM community to showcase the versatility of neuroimaging’s latest methods. But comparative neuroimaging is a dynamic and productive field where novel methods and frameworks are deployed to compare brains across not only phenotypes, but genotypes as well. A key objective of comparative neuroscience is to understand the brain as the anatomical substrate encoding the behaviors required for each species to exploit its ecological niche. This evolutionary framework has recently been embodied by a common space approach; whereby common organizational motifs are used to identify the outliers unique to a given species. This unifying framework places all species on a common axis of cortical evolution, enabling us to understand where brain organization has been conserved, and where unique morphology may have emerged to drive unique aspects of human cognition. Furthermore, this common axis provides a framework for the translation of invasive findings derived from preclinical work.

Until recently it has been difficult to use this framework as both acquiring non-human MRI data and analyzing it have been limited to research centers with specialized equipment and personnel. However, the comparative neuroimaging community has worked to remove these barriers via the creation of open-source data and resource repositories in the ongoing PRIME-DE and PRIME-RE projects. Thanks to these resources, now, more than ever, this course will democratize the field of comparative neuroimaging such that new voices and ideas may further our understanding of how evolution drives the underlying organization of the human brain.


-- Understand the significance of comparative neuroimaging and brain evolution and cross-species translation
-- Learn the best practices for acquiring, preprocessing, and analyzing non-human neuroimaging data
-- Utilize cutting-edge common space approaches for multimodal comparative studies across species
-- Navigate ethical considerations in animal research 

Target Audience

Our target audience consists of members of the OHBM community who have an interest in studying, or adding the story of brain evolution to their studies, or have a need to translate invasive findings from preclinical research, but do not know where to start. Our aim is to show the wider OHBM community how recently developed resources make comparative neuroimaging not only accessible, but an area developing some of the most exciting analysis frameworks available today. 


1. Optimising animal brain image acquisition

A major motivation for animal scanning is in translational work where the same protocols can be used to match clinical studies. Differences in scale and morphology between species often mean though that optimal acquisition requires some careful thought. This is particularly acute where the data are to be used for computational neuroanatomy analysis. In this talk I will discuss some of the challenges inherent in scanning the animal brain and how to optimise protocols to maximise the potential for automated analysis of the data.  


Stephen Sawiak, University of Cambridge Cambridge, Cambridgeshire 
United Kingdom

2. Anatomically-Informed Comparative Neuroimaging

The start of any common-space approach is the establishment of anatomical landmarks. How do we identify homologous areas between species? In poorly-characterized species, how do we cross-validate these putative homologies? What role can automated approaches play? Using the chimpanzee as a case example, we will explore different imaging modalities (structural, diffusion, and myelin mapping) for identifying cortical landmarks, and analytical approaches for mapping brain organization.


Katherine BRYANT, Institute for Language,Communication and Brain Aix-Marseille Université MARSEILLE, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 

3. Using structural connections to build common spaces

Diffusion tractography allows for the reconstruction of major white matter fibre bundles, many of which are preserved across evolution and show cortical connectivity patterns common and/or divergent across species. These (dis)similarities may be probed to understand brain evolution. In this talk, I will introduce how we can build common spaces anchored on major white matter fibre bundles to quantitatively compare brains across evolution. 


Shaun Warrington, University of Nottingham Nottingham, Nottinghamshire 
United Kingdom

4. Comparative functional connectome between human and macaque

In this talk, I will introduce the challenges and best practices in analyzing the functional connectome data in nonhuman primates by utilizing the publicly available data from PRIMatE Data Exchange (PRIME-DE) consortium. By leveraging this resource, I will present a dimensional reduction approach in constructing cross-species functional similarity, characterizing homologous and divergent functional profiles between humans and macaques.  


Ting Xu, Child Mind Institute New York, NY 
United States

5. Developmental trajectories as a common space between species

In this talk I will introduce the use of developmental trajectories to study brain structure between species. First I will describe the statistical basis of the study of trajectories or longitudinal time series, then I will describe how to use these in the context of the study of brain volume between species. 


Eduardo A. Garza-Villarreal, MD, PhD, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Neuropsychiatry and Neurotoxicology Lab
Queretaro, Queretaro 

6. Phylogenetic comparative neuroanatomy

To interpret our results in an evolutionary perspective, we need to consider that different species are not independent data points but are all part of a large phylogenetic tree, sharing different amounts of common history.
In this session, we will discover the importance of taking phylogenetic relationships into account when aiming at comparing brain traits across species. We will explore major evolutionary models, including the Brownian motion model, Ornstein-Uhlenbeck and Early Burst model of phenotypic evolution, and how to use them for ancestral phenotype reconstructions. 


Katja Heuer, Institut Pasteur Paris, Paris