Linking structure to function in the primate medial temporal lobe
03 / 2008 - 02 / 2010
One cost of our increasing lifespan is that memory disorders such as Alzheimer?s disease are becoming ever more prevalent. A vital brain structure supporting memory is the medial temporal lobe (MTL). There is growing evidence that alterations in patterns of connections within the MTL and with regions outside the MTL may underlie many of the symptoms of such disorders. While much is known about the anatomy of non-human primates, until recently it has been impossible to investigate the connections in the human brain in vivo. Without such information, it has been contentious how to relate the regions in monkey MTL with those in the human. Our aim will be to use a cutting-edge neuroimaging technique -diffusion weighted imaging- along with functional neuroimaging to compare for the first time the connectivity of the MTL in both species. This allows us to ascertain by structural, anatomical, and functional techniques the precise location and function of the putative homologues of monkey MTL in the human brain. Such information will be vital to help bridge the gap between animal and human research and will lay the groundwork for pioneering studies investigating how disrupting parts of MTL affect the neural networks involved in memory.