Tom Van Grootel

Alumni Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes

Main Focus

Conference Poster SfN 2012

464.Extrastriate Cortex: Organization and Circuits
Monday, Oct 15, 2012, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Hall F-J

464.14 board Z7
Monday, Oct 15, 2012, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Longitudinal fMRI study of cortical development in young monkeys

Tom J. van Grootel1, Alan Meeson2, Matthias HJ. Munk1, Zoe Kourtzi2, J. Anthony Movshon3, Nikos K. Logothetis1, Lynne Kiorpes3
1MPI For Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany; 2Behavioural and Brain Sciences, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK; 3CNS, NYU, New York, USA.


Support: James S. McDonnell Foundation, Max Planck Society

Project description

Longitudinal study of cortical development in young monkeys

Tom J. van Grootel, Matthias H. J. Munk, Michael Beyerlein, Mark Augath, Lynne Kiorpes1
1New York University, Center for Neuroscience, New York, USA

Introduction and Scientific Aims

Abnormal cortical development leads to severe behavioral impairments. For instance an untreated amblyopic eye permanently disturbs visual perception at adult age. To understand developmental disorders like this it is necessary to understand neural development in the healthy system.
This project aims to understand sensory development. The neural response to visual and auditory stimuli will be assessed during anesthetized fMRI experiments. Comparable perceptual ability will be assessed with psychophysical tests. The scans will be performed as early as 10 weeks of age. From that age on, subjects will be investigated in a longitudinal study into adulthood. In this way the maturation of perceptual ability and the concurrent neuronal changes can be observed in individual subjects.
Performing MRI scans in young anesthetized monkeys is a complicated undertaking. Our first goal is to refine the protocol for anesthetizing and scanning infant monkeys.


We are imaging the brain activity with a 7 Tesla horizontal MR scanner. This scanner is suitable for small animals and allows for high spatial resolution of fMRI signals (typically 0.5 mm3). Earlier data were acquired with a vertical 4.7T scanner.
In parallel to the scanning, behavioral data will be recorded from the same monkeys in a reinforced two-alternative preferential-looking paradigm [1]. This technique is based on the natural behavior of an infant monkey that selectively chooses to view the most salient stimulus. Rewarding subjects reinforces this natural behavior and keeps the subjects motivated.

Results and Preliminary Conclusions

Our data show that we can measure BOLD activity in anesthetized infant monkeys. Differences can be observed between adults and infants (<1 year). The activation patterns following static or dynamic visual stimulation do not seem to differ in infants, whereas in adults dynamic visual stimuli induce less signal in primary visual cortices (V1) than static stimuli.
These initial results suggest that infant brains process visual stimuli in a different way. At a young age moving and stationary stimuli are processed in a uniform manner. This corresponds with earlier results [2] where BOLD responses in Middle Temporal cortex (MT, involved in motion perception) only became active at a later age (~13 months).


  1. Hall-Haro C, Kiorpes L (2008) normal development of pattern motion sensitivity in macaque monkeys. Visual Neuroscience 25 675-684.
  2. Kourtzi Z, Augath M, Logothetis NK, Movshon JA, Kiorpes L (2006) development of visually evoked cortical activity in infant macaque monkeys studied longitudinally with fmri, Magnetic Resonance Imaging 24 359-366.
Further information

Other information about my work is on LinkedIn.

For work related comments I use Twitter.

Curriculum Vitae


An up-to-date publication list can be found on .

  • Van Grootel TJ, Van Wanrooij MM, Van Opstal AJ (2011) Influence of static eye and head position on tone-evoked gaze shifts. J Neurosci 31:17496-504.
  • Van Barneveld DCPBM, Van Grootel TJ, Alberts B, Van Opstal AJ (2010) The effect of head roll on perceived auditory zenith. Exp Brain Res 213:235-43.
  • Bremen P, Van der Willigen RF, Van Wanrooij MM, Schaling EDF, Martens MB, Van Grootel TJ, Van Opstal AJ (2010) Applying double-magnetic induction to measure head-unrestrained gaze shifts: calibration and validation in monkey. Biol Cybern 103:415-432.
  • Van Grootel TJ, Van Opstal AJ (2010) Human Sound Localization Accounts for Ocular Drift. J Neurophysiol 103:1927-1936.
  • Van Grootel TJ, Van Opstal AJ (2009) Human sound-localization behaviour after multiple changes in eye position. Eur J Neurosci 29:2233-2246.
  • Vliegen J, Van Grootel TJ, Van Opstal AJ (2005) Gaze orienting in dynamic visual double steps. J Neurophysiol 94:4300-4313.
  • Vliegen J, Van Grootel TJ, Van Opstal AJ (2004) Dynamic sound localization during rapid eye-head gaze shifts. J Neurosci 24:9291-9302.
PhD thesis

An online version of my PhD thesis can be found .
Paper versions are still available upon request.

Go to Editor View