Software tool brings together multiple brain maps in one place
The brain is a complex organ, and no one imaging mode can catch everything that’s going on inside it. Over the years, multiple “brain maps” have emerged, each focusing on different brain processes, from metabolism to cognitive function. While these maps are important, using them in isolation limits the discoveries researchers can make from them.
Now a team from The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) of McGill University has brought together more than forty existing brain maps in one place. The database, called neuromaps, will help scientists find correlations between patterns across different brain regions, spatial scales, modalities and brain functions. It provides a standardized space to view each map in comparison to each other, and assesses the statistical significance of these comparisons, to help researchers distinguish a meaningful correlation from a random pattern. The neuromaps database also helps standardize the code across maps, to improve reproducibility of results.
“Ultimately, we hope that neuromaps will add a spark to the analysis of human brain maps and increase accessibility of data and software tools to people with diverse research interests,” says Justine Hansen, a PhD candidate at The Neuro and the paper’s co-first author. “As the rate at which new brain maps are generated in the field continues to grow, we hope that neuromaps will provide researchers with a set of standardized workflows for better understanding what these data can tell us about the human brain.”
This study was funded with the help of Fonds de Recherche du Quebec – Nature et Technologies (FRQNT), Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP), Hemlholtz International BigBrain Analytics and Learning Laboratory (HIBALL), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canada Research Chairs (CRC), National Institute of Health (NIH), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL), and Brain Canada Future Leaders (BCF).
The Neuro – The Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital – is a bilingual, world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical center in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world’s top minds make The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders. In 2016, The Neuro became the first institute in the world to fully embrace the Open Science philosophy, creating the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute. The Montreal Neurological Institute is a McGill University research and teaching institute. The Montreal Neurological Hospital is part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre.