Abnormalities of thalamic volume and shape detected in fetally irradiated rhesus monkeys with high dimensional brain mapping

Matthew K. Schindler, Lei Wang, Lynn D. Selemon, Patricia S. Goldman-Rakic, Pasko Rakic, John G. Csernansky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Prior research has indicated neuroanatomical abnormalities of the thalamus in schizophrenia. To study the possible pathogenesis, an animal model of neurodevelopmental thalamic damage has been developed by applying low-dose radiation to rhesus monkeys in early gestation. Irradiated monkeys sacrificed as infants demonstrate neuronal losses in specific thalamic nuclei and decreases in cortical neuropil. Methods: Magnetic resonance scans were collected in adult Rhesus monkeys exposed to irradiation during thalamic neurogenesis (E33-42), after thalamic neurogenesis (E70-81), and in nonirradiated control animals. High dimensional brain mapping was used to compare thalamic volumes and shape characteristics in the three groups of animals. Results: Animals exposed to irradiation at E33-42 showed a significant bilateral loss of thalamic volumes (> 20%) compared with controls and with animals irradiated at E70-81 when total brain volume was used as a covariate in the analysis. Thalamic volume loss was associated with a nonuniform deformation of thalamic shape. Conclusions: A first-trimester, neurodevelopmental insult in the nonhuman primate during thalamic neurogenesis produces a complex pattern of thalamic volume loss and shape deformation in adulthood. Low-dose irradiation of the fetal primate may be useful for modeling key features of the pathology described in schizophrenic patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-837
Number of pages11
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2002


  • MRI
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Neuromorphometry
  • Primate
  • Schizophrenia
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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