Advances in studying brain morphology: the benefits of open-access data

Madan, Christopher R. (2017) Advances in studying brain morphology: the benefits of open-access data. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11 . 405/1-405/8. ISSN 1662-5161

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Until recently, neuroimaging data for a research study needed to be collected within one’s own lab. However, when studying inter-individual differences in brain structure, a large sample of participants is necessary. Given the financial costs involved in collecting neuroimaging data from hundreds or thousands of participants, large-scale studies of brain morphology could previously only be conducted by well-funded laboratories with access to MRI facilities and to large samples of participants. With the advent of broad open-access data-sharing initiatives, this has recently changed–here the primary goal of the study is to collect large datasets to be shared, rather than sharing of the data as an afterthought. This paradigm shift is evident as increase in the pace of discovery, leading to a rapid rate of advances in our characterization of brain structure. The utility of open-access brain morphology data is numerous, ranging from observing novel patterns of agerelated differences in subcortical structures to the development of more robust cortical parcellation atlases, with these advances being translatable to improved methods for characterizing clinical disorders (see Figure 1 for an illustration). Moreover, structural MRIs are generally more robust than functional MRIs, relative to potential artifacts and in being not task-dependent, resulting in large potential yields. While the benefits of open-access data have been discussed more broadly within the field of cognitive neuroscience elsewhere (Van Horn and Gazzaniga, 2013; Poldrack and Gorgolewski, 2014; Van Horn and Toga, 2014; Vogelstein et al., 2016; Voytek, 2016; Gilmore et al., 2017), as well as in other fields (Choudhury et al., 2014; Ascoli et al., 2017; Davies et al., 2017), this opinion paper is focused specifically on the implications of open data to brain morphology research.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: structural MRI, neuroimaging, cortical structure, aging, cortical thickness, gyrification
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Madan, Christopher
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 13:16
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:59

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