A Baboon Brain Atlas for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography Image Analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Frontiers in neuroanatomy






MRI; PET; atlas; baboon; brain; imaging; registration


The olive baboon () is phylogenetically proximal to humans. Investigation into the baboon brain has shed light on the function and organization of the human brain, as well as on the mechanistic insights of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Non-invasive brain imaging, including positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are the primary outcome measures frequently used in baboon studies. PET functional imaging has long been used to study cerebral metabolic processes, though it lacks clear and reliable anatomical information. In contrast, MRI provides a clear definition of soft tissue with high resolution and contrast to distinguish brain pathology and anatomy, but lacks specific markers of neuroreceptors and/or neurometabolites. There is a need to create a brain atlas that combines the anatomical and functional/neurochemical data independently available from MRI and PET. For this purpose, a three-dimensional atlas of the olive baboon brain was developed to enable multimodal imaging analysis. The atlas was created on a population-representative template encompassing 89 baboon brains. The atlas defines 24 brain regions, including the thalamus, cerebral cortex, putamen, corpus callosum, and insula. The atlas was evaluated with four MRI images and 20 PET images employing the radiotracers for [C]benzamide, [C]metergoline, [F]FAHA, and [C]rolipram, with and without structural aids like [F]flurodeoxyglycose images. The atlas-based analysis pipeline includes automated segmentation, registration, quantification of region volume, the volume of distribution, and standardized uptake value. Results showed that, in comparison to PET analysis utilizing the "gold standard" manual quantification by neuroscientists, the performance of the atlas-based analysis was at >80 and >70% agreement for MRI and PET, respectively. The atlas can serve as a foundation for further refinement, and incorporation into a high-throughput workflow of baboon PET and MRI data. The new atlas is freely available on the Figshare online repository (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.16663339), and the template images are available from neuroImaging tools & resources collaboratory (NITRC) (https://www.nitrc.org/projects/haiko89/).