Don M. Tucker, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Cognitive and Decision Sciences
University of Oregon
PO Box 870101
Eugene, OR 97403 USA
v: (503) 346-4963
f: (503) 346-4911
Research, academic; Research, government; Research, commercial; Health care/health services
Innovative or improved ways of doing things; More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Creation of new ideas, products, or services; Technology transfer
Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
Software; Computer graphic images, such as GIF files
The Human Brain Project is a consortium within the cognitive/neuro-science research community. The objective of the project is to promote understanding of brain function and structure. Benefits such as treatment of psychological disorders will come along with increased understanding of the brain. Data is collected in a variety of contexts, such as scalp surface electrical potential (function) and magnetic resonance imaging (structure), at different laboratories. Such data recorded by one lab can be acquired by other labs via ftp on the Internet. The Internet is an extremely efficient organizational tool for scientific research. Data may be shared as well as analytically modified and recirculated. One advantage of networked data sharing is that labs without expensive special purpose technology can access data efficiently. Alternative methods of data sharing, such as postal mail of removable media, can have hardware incompatibility problems, and in some cases, data may be too large to fit on removable media making physical data sharing impossible.
One current research topic is the construction of a volume conductance atlas for an average magnetic resonance volume. The atlas will provide an important reference of brain anatomy to be used in constraining the search for dipole localization of brain electrical activity, especially those techniques utilizing finite element methods. The work in this project has been divided among three labs participating in the Human Brain Project, namely: “Brain Electrophsyiology Lab, Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, University of Oregon”, “McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute”, and “Research Imaging Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio”. Each lab will process the data volume at one step in the data flow. Upon completion the atlas will be available to other labs.
The average magnetic resonance volume was created at the Montreal centre. The next step in the data flow is for the Texas group to segment the average volume to isolate brain structures with different conductance values. The final step involves the Oregon lab assigning conductance values to the segmented average volume.
This approach to scientific research has several advantages over current practices. First, the project is distributed among several labs which increases the amount of capable manpower to tackle large scale problems. Next, by uniting several labs with different but related interests, background research will be supplanted by the complement of represented interests. Finally, the research produced through collaborative efforts can be made available to other labs, thereby generating new tools which yield new insights. As a final note, the cyclical nature of this system progresses science inherently.