Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New software to advance brain image research developed

Date:
June 27, 2011
Source:
University of Colorado at Boulder
Summary:
Scientists have developed a new software program allowing neuroscientists to produce single brain images pulled from hundreds of individual studies, trimming weeks and even months from what can be a tedious, time-consuming research process.

A University of Colorado Boulder research team has developed a new software program allowing neuroscientists to produce single brain images pulled from hundreds of individual studies, trimming weeks and even months from what can be a tedious, time-consuming research process.

The development of noninvasive neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, spurred a huge amount of scientific research and led to substantial advances in the understanding of the human brain and cognitive function. However, instead of having too little data, researchers are besieged with too much, according to Tal Yarkoni, a postdoctoral fellow in CU-Boulder's psychology and neuroscience department.

The new software developed by Yarkoni and his colleagues can be programmed to comb scientific literature for published articles relevant to a particular topic, and then to extract all of the brain scan images from those articles. Using a statistical process called "meta-analysis," researchers are then able to produce a consensus "brain activation image" reflecting hundreds of studies at a time.

"Because the new approach is entirely automated, it can analyze hundreds of different experimental tasks or mental states nearly instantaneously instead of requiring researchers to spend weeks or months conducting just one analysis," said Yarkoni.

Yarkoni is the lead author on a paper introducing the new approach to analyzing brain imaging data that appears in the June 26 edition of the journal Nature Methods. Russell Poldrack of the University of Texas at Austin, Thomas Nichols of the University of Warwick in England, David Van Essen of Washington University in St. Louis and Tor Wager of CU-Boulder contributed to the paper.

Brain scanning techniques such as fMRI have revolutionized scientists' understanding of the human mind by allowing researchers to peer deep into people's brains as they engage in mental activities as diverse as reciting numbers, making financial decisions or simply daydreaming. But interpreting the results of brain imaging studies is often more difficult, according to Yarkoni.

"There's often the perception that what we're doing when we scan someone's brain is literally seeing their thoughts and feelings in action, but it's actually much more complicated," Yarkoni said. "The colorful images we see are really just estimates, because each study gives us a somewhat different picture. It's only by combining the results of many different studies that we get a really clear picture of what's going on."

The ability to look at many different mental states simultaneously allows researchers to ask interesting new questions. For instance, researchers can pick out a specific brain region they're interested in and determine which mental states are most likely to produce activation in that region, he said. Or they can calculate how likely a person is to be performing a particular task given their pattern of brain activity.

In their study, the research team was able to distinguish people who were experiencing physical pain during brain scanning from people who were performing a difficult memory task or viewing emotional pictures with nearly 80 percent accuracy. The team expects performance levels to improve as their software develops, and believes their tools will improve researchers' ability to decode mental states from brain activity.

"We don't expect to be able to tell what people are thinking or feeling at a very detailed level," Yarkoni said. "But we think we'll be able to distinguish relatively broad mental states from one another. And we're hopeful that might even eventually extend to mental health disorders, so that these tools will be useful for clinical diagnosis."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado at Boulder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Colorado at Boulder. "New software to advance brain image research developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627095755.htm>.
University of Colorado at Boulder. (2011, June 27). New software to advance brain image research developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627095755.htm
University of Colorado at Boulder. "New software to advance brain image research developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110627095755.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins