PARIS – A research project aimed at mapping the neural pathways that underlie brain function and behavior has released an initial set of high-quality imaging and behavioral data to the scientific community.
The Human Connectome Project (HCP), a U.S. government-funded scheme, is acquiring and analyzing data from a cohort of 1,200 healthy adults with a diffusion-imaging scanner developed by Siemens AG.
The data set includes information about brain connectivity in each individual, using two distinct magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) approaches. The first, named resting-state functional connectivity, is based on spontaneous fluctuations in functional MRI signals that occur in a complex pattern in space and time throughout the gray matter of the brain. The second approach, dubbed diffusion imaging, provides information about the long-distance "wiring" – the anatomical pathways traversing the brain’s white matter.
Each volunteer is then scanned while performing different tasks within the scanner, thus providing information about "Task-fMRI" brain activation patterns.
Researchers noted that the imaging data set released by the HCP takes up about two terabytes of computer memory.
"By making this unique data set available now, and continuing with regular data releases every quarter, the Human Connectome Project is enabling the scientific community to immediately begin exploring relationships between brain circuits and individual behavior," commented David Van Essen, Professor at Washington University School of Medicine. "The HCP will have a major impact on our understanding of the healthy adult human brain, and it will set the stage for future projects that examine changes in brain circuits underlying the wide variety of brain disorders afflicting humankind."
Led by Washington University, University of Minnesota and Oxford
University, the consortium gathers together ten institutions in the United States
A map of average “functional connectivity” in human cerebral cortex
Regions in yellow are functionally connected to a “seed” location in the parietal lobe of the right hemisphere, whereas regions in red and orange are weakly connected or not connected at all.
White matter fiber architecture of the brain
Measured from diffusion spectral imaging. The fibers are color-coded by direction: red = left-right, green = anterior-posterior, blue = through brain stem.
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