Validation of a new coil array tailored for dog functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies


Comparative neuroimaging allows for the identification of similarities and differences between species. It provides an important and promising avenue, to answer questions about the evolutionary origins of the brain´s organization, in terms of both structure and function. Dog functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has recently become one particularly promising and increasingly used approach to study brain function and coevolution. In dog neuroimaging, image acquisition has so far been mostly performed with coils originally developed for use in human MRI. Since such coils have been tailored to human anatomy, their sensitivity and data quality is likely not optimal for dog MRI. Therefore, we developed a multichannel receive coil (K9 coil, read “canine”) tailored for high-resolution functional imaging in canines, optimized for dog cranial anatomy. In this paper we report structural (n = 9) as well as functional imaging data (resting-state, n = 6; simple visual paradigm, n = 9) collected with the K9 coil in comparison to reference data collected with a human knee coil. Our results show that the K9 coil significantly outperforms the human knee coil, improving the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) across the imaging modalities. We noted increases of roughly 45% signal-to-noise in the structural and functional domain. In terms of translation to fMRI data collected in a visual flickering checkerboard paradigm, group-level analyses show that the K9 coil performs better than the knee coil as well. These findings demonstrate how hardware improvements may be instrumental in driving data quality, and thus, quality of imaging results, for dog-human comparative neuroimaging.

Magdalena Boch
Magdalena Boch
comparative social neuroscientist and psychologist