Researchers show structures, nerve connections and functions in vivid detail as part of the most detailed atlas yet of a person’s memory ban
Peer support group started by students for students lifts those who want a conversation with someone their own age.
In fiscal year 2017-2018, the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC received more than $30.5 million in active research funding.
A new preprint called “A systematic bias in DTI findings” could prove worrying for many neuroscientists. In the article, authors Farshid Sepehrband and colleagues of the University of Southern California argue that commonly-used measures of the brain’s white matter integrity may be flawed.
Two-thirds of AD patients are women, leading to the commonly held assumption that women run a higher risk of dementia. In Chicago, Arthur Toga of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, challenged that view with data gleaned from a meta-analysis of 58,000 participants in 27 AD studies.
USC offers numerous institutional training opportunities for postdocs, including parallel lines of research on aging and Alzheimer’s disease. But the new project, “Training for the Multiscale and Multimodal Analysis of Biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Disease,” differs from a traditional postdoctoral fellowship in its highly collaborative nature and its emphasis on both the informatics behind Alzheimer’s research and the use of multiple methodologies to study the disease.
The Virtual Brain Segmenter turns a tedious step in the scientific process into an immersive experience
A new virtual-reality (VR) software to correct segmentation errors on MRI scans was found to be faster, more accurate and enjoyable compared to a more commonly used system, report authors of a recent Journal of Digital Imaging study.
The Virtual Brain Segmenter (VBS), a virtual reality tool for processing brain scan images, has been named a finalist for the 2018 Auggie Breakthrough Awards, which honor innovative academic-industry collaborations in virtual and augmented reality.
VBS was developed by INI’s Dominique Duncan, PhD, Tyler Ard, PhD, Arthur W. Toga, PhD and the industry group RareFaction Interactive to transform a tedious step in the scientific process into an immersive experience. After collecting MRI data, researchers typically correct errors in scan images by hand, but VBS allows them to speed up the process with a VR headset, joystick and larger-than-life images of the brain.
In an experimental trial, published in the Journal of Digital Imaging in July, participants finished a correction task 68 seconds faster using VBS compared with the traditional method, a highly significant time savings considering the task rarely took more than three minutes to complete.
Now, Dr. Duncan is traveling in Munich, Germany to represent INI at the Auggie Breakthrough Awards ceremony, where winners will be chosen in several categories, including Most Innovative Breakthrough, Most Impactful Breakthrough and Best in Show. Fellow finalists include representatives from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Stanford, the Mayo Clinic and international collaborators from Finland, Australia and beyond. Projects span the health sciences, communications, education, resource management and gaming.
Read more about the finalists in the official press release
Learn more about VBS from USC News
Earlier this month, six undergraduate students from California State University, Fullerton presented their summer research results to a room full of neuroscientists at the Mary and Mark Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI). The collaboration is part of CSUF’s Big Data Discovery and Diversity through Research Education Advancement and Partnerships (BD3 REAP) program, which trains underrepresented students in big data science.
“The program exposes these young investigators to what modern science is about these days, which is the collection of ever larger data sets,” said Jack Van Horn, INI’s director of education and leader of the collaboration. “They’re learning about the challenges of big data, and how they can manage, model, and understand it.”
Building on several semesters studying data science and analytics at CSUF, each student selected a big data neuroimaging project to pursue this summer with the guidance of INI faculty members and postdoctoral researchers.
For their presentations, the students covered methods, results and next steps. Each created a slideshow and was encouraged to delve into the technical aspects of research performed. Focus areas included the Epilepsy Bioinformatics Study for Antiepileptogenic Therapy (EpiBioS4Rx), using gene expression to build an atlas of the hippocampus and the link between functional brain connectivity and familial Alzheimer’s disease.
The students received mentorship from INI faculty, including program director Jack Van Horn, Kay Jann, Tyler Ard, Dominique Duncan, Lirong Yan and Meredith Braskie.
“This has been a great opportunity for INI to expand its commitment to training the next generation of leaders,” said Arthur W. Toga, provost professor at USC and director of INI. “We were impressed by the students’ work and look forward to continuing our outreach efforts with CSU Fullerton.”
Above, the CSU Fullerton students and their INI mentors.
Ryan Cabeen, postdoctoral scholar at the Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, has won the International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging's 2018 VoTEM challenge for 3-D tractography.
Cabeen's winning visualization, shown above, depicts neural connectivity in the squirrel monkey and macaque. His work helps reconstruct fiber bundles, a challenge of diffusion MRI, in both phantoms and brain tissue. Below, Cabeen with one of the coolest trophies we've ever seen.
For more information about the VoTEM challenge, visit my.vanderbilt.edu/votem
For years, the Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI) has been a key contributor to the Autism Center for Excellence (ACE) Network, which aims to advance autism research by studying brain structure and aggregating and sharing data. Jack Van Horn, associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, directs ACE’s coordinating center.
Van Horn, along with INI’s Zachary Jacokes and Carinna Torgerson and Andrei Irimia of the USC Davis School of Gerontology, recently published an MRI study of the disorder in Nature Scientific Reports. The researchers studied brain structures of autism patients versus healthy individuals, comparing males and females; they found that sex differences in ASD appear to be linked to differences in white matter, specifically in parts of the temporal and parietal lobes. The results are an important step toward understanding why ASD is almost four times more common in boys than girls.
Now, INI researchers are also one step closer to understanding how autism affects the human brain across the lifespan. This month, one of the largest-ever brain morphometry studies of autism, led by the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis autism spectrum disorders working group (ENIGMA-ASD), was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
INI’s Paul M. Thompson, director of the Imaging Genetics Center and principal investigator of ENIGMA, and Neda Jahanshad, assistant professor of neurology, contributed to the study.
“Autism is hard to treat because we lack a deep understanding of how children with autism develop differently, and how best to nurture their brain development,” said Thompson.
“With our global alliance—now studying thousands of children across the world—we are starting to see distinctive brain features in children with autism, and learn how the brain adapts throughout life; we are beginning to have the power to rigorously test and verify factors that may be beneficial for different children.”
The study analyzed MRI scans to identify differences in cortical and subcortical structures between 1,571 patients with ASD and 1,651 healthy controls. Participants from 49 different imaging centers, aged 2 to 64, were included in the analysis. Researchers examined differences in subcortical volumes, cortical thickness and surface area.
ASD subjects had smaller volumes in several brain structures, including the pallidum, putamen, amygdala and nucleus accumbens; they also had decreased cortical thickness in the temporal cortex and increased thickness in the frontal cortex. Cortical development appeared to be most impacted during adolescence, when large differences in thickness were observed. The analysis has led to the first definitive maps of the affected brain regions.
The ENIGMA consortium performs some of the largest neuroimaging studies of rare genetic diseases and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, focusing on the interaction between brain health and genetics. The group currently investigates 22 diseases, with researchers in 37 countries analyzing data from more than 53,000 subjects.
Elegant visualizations of neuroscience data and phenomena are meant to help researchers better understand the brain, but these eye-catching images also have artistic value. This quarter, two of the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Instituteâ€™s (INI) visualization specialists, Jim Stanis and Tyler Ard, contributed images to an on-campus exhibition, Neurological System Art.
Stanis, INIâ€™s in-house medical and scientific animator, created â€œSynaptogenesis,â€ an image that shows neurons in the brain forming new connections: axons of each neuron grow to synapse with the dendritic spines on the dendrites of other neurons. Stanis used 3DS Maxâ€”an animation software package originally built to create visual effects for TV and filmâ€”to create 3D models of neurons and to animate the growth of dendrites and axons.
Ard, assistant professor of research at INI, created â€œConnected Selfâ€ using data from fellow INI assistant professor Yonggang Shi. The image shows two different MRI scans of the same subject, highlighting the axons that connect various parts of the brain to one another. Connectivity was measured with a technique called diffusion MRI tractography; different colors represent the orientation of axons in the brain.
Their work appears alongside two featured artists: J. Frederic May and Jane Szabo. In 2012, May suffered a severe stroke during open heart surgery, leaving him legally blind and experiencing visual hallucinations. He uses a data corruption software to create blurry and fragmented images that simulate his visual experience. Szabo has prosopagnosia, or face blindness, and explores self-portraiture and identity through her work. She received her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
The exhibit is currently on display at the Hoyt Gallery in the Keith Administration Building (KAM).
USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI) researchers have used machine learning to determine key sex differences in Magnetic Resonance Imaging data in a new study published online ahead of print in NeuroImage. Part of INI's Big Data for Discovery Science initiative, the study analyzed brain scans of more than 1500 healthy youths.
Researchers found that cortical thickness in two areas of the brain-the middle occipital lobes and the angular gyri-are major predictors of sex. Specifically, females demonstrate significantly thicker gray matter in these areas when multiple regions were included in the sex difference model. The team also developed a statistical learning model that accurately predicted sex based on brain morphology in more than 80 percent of participants.
"If we can establish a better understanding of sex differences in the brain, we'll be one step closer to personalized medicine," says Farshid Sepehrband, PhD, project specialist at INI and lead author of the paper. "Once we have a baseline of neuroanatomical sex differences, we can start to explore how and why some diseases-for example, autism-manifest differently in boys and girls." Understanding the anatomic differences between male and female brains could help doctors better diagnose and treat autism in the future.
The study was a collaborative effort among USC researchers, including INI's Sepehrband, Kirsten Lynch, Ryan Cabeen, Lu Zhao, Kristi Clark and Arthur W. Toga. USC faculty from the Viterbi School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute and the Keck School of Medicine of USC's departments of pediatrics and preventive medicine also contributed to the research, along with Ivo Dinov, PhD, of the University of Michigan.
The code from the study is open-source and public via Github, where users can generate the same figures published in the paper. Sepehrband also used Plotly to generate an interactive plot of the results: hover over each plot point to see the sex difference statistics.
Source codes (Github):https://github.com/sepehrband/Mining_NeuroAnat
Interactive plot (Plotly): https://plot.ly/~sepehrband/50/neuroanatomy-of-sex-difference/
The ENIGMA consortium was featured in Science Magazine, including the recent work of Paul Thompson, Chris Whelan and Sanjay Sisodiya. The latest study has identified key structural similarities across all major types of epilepsy, and is already starting to change how researchers think about the disorder.
The Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute’s research will let clinicians evaluate the effectiveness of cell-based therapies used to treat various cancers Additional coverage for this study can be found at Health Imaging: https://www.healthimaging.com/topics/molecular-imaging/mri-enhances-cells-determine-effectiveness-therapy
One of the largest-ever brain morphometry studies of autism, led by the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis autism spectrum disorders working group (ENIGMA-ASD), was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in April.
Most 8-year olds care more about toys and video games than neuropsychology — but not Joy Stradford. She often went to work with her mother, a special education teacher in New Jersey, and was both concerned for and intrigued by the disabled children she met.
The San Diego Union-Tribune,
A large number of people taking medications for Alzheimer's actually might not have the disease, according to early evidence from a study presented Wednesday. But detection may become easier if an experimental blood test ultimately proves accurate, said another report released on the same day.
Keck School of Medicine of USC surgeon and radiologist team up to test a new ultrahigh field imaging technology
On Feb. 3, local teens converged on USC’s Health Sciences Campus for the Los Angeles Brain Bee, a day of exploration, networking and competition.
Brain scans from stroke patients are being downloaded by researchers around the world to predict the most efficient therapies
Consortium looks at biological factors that can predict health outcomes as part of a five-year study
Thousands of brain scans are studied to better understand patterns of differences in one of the largest imaging studies to date
Paul Thompson, PhD, associate director of INI, has received a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) for his work on sex disparities in mental health.
LONI was featured in a two-part episode about how researchers are using data science to study the brain. The series covers the latest updates in data collection, brain imaging, LONI Pipeline, artificial intelligence and current challenges in the field. Hear from Director Arthur W. Toga, Professor Meng Law, and researchers Farshid Sepehrband and Ryan Cabeen.
Tyler Ard has created a new visualization tool, Neuro Imaging in Virtual Reality, that enables researchers to interact with large neuroimaging data sets in a new way. The intuitive software enables users to view, segment, and even virtually dissect the brain. Ard's presentation at the 2017 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting was featured in Spectrum.
The National Institutes of Health-funded research at several departments will use existing data to explore the issue
Arthur W. Toga joins other researchers on the five-year study backed by a $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute will process 4,000 brain scans during the study.
On October 15, CNET highlighted Dr. Sook-Lei Liew's Rehabilitation Environment using the Integration of Neuromuscular-based Virtual Enhancements for Neural Training (REINVENT), which is used to treat patients who have suffered severe strokes. The brain-computer interface uses virtual reality to promote brain plasticity.
Medical News Today,
On Aug. 29, Medical News Today spotlighted a study by Scott Neu, PhD, assistant professor of research neurology, Arthur Toga, PhD, Provost Professor of ophthalmology, neurology, psychiatry and the behavioral sciences, radiology and engineering and Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience, and Judy Pa, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, that found that women with a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's disease have a higher risk of developing the disease between ages 65 and 75 than men.
On Aug. 28, HealthDay spotlighted a study by Scott Neu, PhD, assistant professor of research neurology, Arthur Toga, PhD, Provost Professor of ophthalmology, neurology, psychiatry and the behavioral sciences, radiology and engineering and Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience, and Judy Pa, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, that found that women with a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's disease have a higher risk of developing the disease between ages 65 and 75 than men.
USC Trojan Family Magazine
A new Alzheimer's disease study examines how cognitive and physical activity can help brains stay healthy.
Arthur Toga saw the disease ravage his family, so he's worked to transform what scientists know and think about the memory-erasing illness that affects 1 in 3 seniors.
An international network of neurologists, geneticists and researchers led by the Keck School of Medicine of USC is cracking the human genetic code so that one day people could check their "brain health" in the same way they screen their cholesterol level.
National Institutes of Health,
The human brain contains distinct geographic regions that communicate throughout the day to process information, such as remembering a neighborâ€™s name or deciding which road to take to work. Key to such processing is a vast network of densely bundled nerve fibers called tracts. Itâ€™s estimated that there are thousands of these tracts, and, because the human brain is so tightly packed with cells, they often travel winding, contorted paths to form their critical connections. That situation has previously been difficult for researchers to image three-dimensional tracts in the brain of a living person.
On Thursday, the University of Southern California opened the doors to its newest hub of research, the Stevens Hall for Neuroimaging. This state of the art center hopes to foster collaboration between neuroscientists around the world.
ABC7 Eyewitness News
ABC News Los Angeles affiliate KABC-TV quoted Bradley Williams of the USC School of Pharmacy and Arthur Toga of Keck Medicine of USC about a recent pharmaceutical development in treating Alzheimer's disease.
The human brain is the most complex computational device in the known universe (for now). It's so powerful that it has managed to design its greatest rival--the supercomputer.
The USC Laboratory of Neuro Imaging of the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute has received a $21.7 million National Institutes of Health grant to study epilepsy, a condition that is currently incurable.
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News,
Whether or not brain size matters is a question that has received only tentative and highly qualified answers. Hoping to be more definite, an international team of scientists addressed the question again, but this time they did so while ensuring their study had something previous studies lackedâ€”size.
In the world's largest MRI study on brain size to date, USC researchers and their international colleagues identified seven genetic hotspots that regulate brain growth, memory and reasoning as well as influence the onset of Parkinson's disease.
Medical Theory has come up a long way to curing people from several diseases. With the help of numerous researches and theories, the hypothesis of medical is kept on being more fruitful over time. However, all the studies and tests havenâ€™t yet discovered all the conditions related to psychiatric and neurological issues. The issues of psychiatric and neurological imply to the mental health problems which can top a cluster of disorders, including mental, personality, behaviour, and social interactions. Like physical disorders, psychiatric and neurological issues are a little bit tricky to diagnose precisely, and hence overwhelmed the treatment and healing methods.
The Economic Times
Electrifying brain circuits could treat neurological and psychiatric symptoms not because it causes neurons to fire but it creates an environment that makes it more or less likely for neurons to fire, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found.
Rather than taking medication, a growing number of people who suffer from chronic pain, epilepsy and drug cravings are zapping their skulls in the hopes that a weak electric current will jolt them back to health. Here's the issue: Until now, scientists have been unable to look under the hood of this DIY therapeutic technique to understand what is happening.
Once a year, the world, politicians and citizens, alike, acknowledge the impact of Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on populations worldwide. On this World Alzheimer's day, the thought of ourselves, our families, our collective memories lost to this neurodegenerative disease, are recognized.
Mehr News Agency
Professor Paul Thompson, of Imaging Genetics Center Lab, University of Southern California in Los Angeles, was second speaker of the second day. He is the head of "ENIGMA" and provided information about the project; "ENIGMA" helps our understanding of structure, functions, and brain diseases through data from brain mapping and genetics; three company contribute to the project and so far, more than 50,000 people from 35 countries have participated; the project is in fact convergence of the brain mapping community to establish one of the greatest data bank in the history of science. The ultimate objective is to decode the genetics of the brain,â€ he told the congress.
Huntington's Disease News,
New data on an uncharted dark spot of the mouse brain map reveals how connections between brain cells form networks responsible for movement and motor learning â€” tasks that go awry in conditions such as Huntingtonâ€™s disease.
New brain map could enable novel therapies for autism,Huntington's disease
The USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI) received its new research-dedicated Siemens Magnetom 3T Prisma MRI scanner March 21, bringing industry-leading brain imaging technology to USCâ€™s Health Sciences Campus.
The USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute will bring together scientists from around the world to further understanding of the brain. Longtime benefactors Mark and Mary Stevensâ€™ $50 million gift will accelerate the instituteâ€™s already dramatic progress toward mapping the healthy brain and illuminating neurologic diseases such as Alzheimerâ€™s and schizophrenia.
What would we be able to see, Toga pondered, if we could use computer-enabled imaging to view how the brain works? Toga has devoted his career to answering that question. As director of the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, he has built one of the largest data collections of human brain images in the world. By combining the power of computer science with the study of brain science, his team at the instituteâ€”which comprises researchers across disciplines like neuroscience, physics, engineering and mathâ€”can map brain image data in an unprecedented way.
The nation's first Training Coordination Center aims to spot trends among enormous amounts of data.
Seeking to strengthen partnerships between two of USCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s oldest schools, scientists from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences recently gathered to discuss new research and areas for future collaboration.
The News & Observer,
To the untrained eye, it looked like a seismograph recording of a violent earthquake or the gyrations of a very volatile day on Wall Street â€” jagged peaks and valleys in red, blue and green, displayed on a wall. But the story it told was not about geology or economics.
Keck School of Medicine of USC
A USC project to visualize and analyze connectivity networks in the mouse brain is among 15 new awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tied to the development of biomedical Big Data applications.
Congratulations to Dr. Hongwei Dong and his team for winning 1 of only 4 BD2K Targeted Software Development awards in the field of Data Visualization.
The gift will streamline the translation of basic research into new therapies for brain injury and disease.
A Silicon Valley venture capitalist who is a USC alumnus and his wife are donating $50 million to a USC brain research institute in hopes of treating such disorders as Alzheimerâ€™s disease, autism and traumatic brain injuries, university officials announced..
Professor Hong-Wei Dong leads a team working on an ambitious NIH-funded Mouse Connectome Project at the USC Institute of Neuroimaging and Informatics, Keck School of Medicine of USC. The first major milestone research paper entitled, Neural Networks of the Mouse Neocortex, was published in Cell on Feb, 2014 (Zingg et al., 2014, Cell, 156). This article was selected as one of the Top 10 research articles in Cell: Best of 2014. This paper is also on the full historical "40 years of Cell" time line as one of the only two landmark papers of 2014 (http://www.cell.com/40/timeline). More information on the Mouse Connectome Project can be found at http://www.mouseconnectome.org/.
In a rare distinction for one university, neuroimaging world leaders and USC Professors Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson will receive two major research center awards to advance their exploration of the human brain.
Los Angeles Times,
Calling the world's wealth of health data a formidable "engine of discovery," the National Institutes of Health on Thursday awarded $32 million in grants in a bid to make huge biomedical data sets accessible to researchers the world over.
Science News Magazine,
Dr. John Van Horn is quoted in this article: The new study has "direct relevance to our outstanding of major brain disorders", says neuroscientist John Van Horn of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Researchers at the University of Southern California are painstakingly mapping the mouse brain, a project with significant implications for understanding how structures in the human brain communicate and how disruptions in their interactions may affect the development of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.
On Sept. 13, 1848, at around 4:30 p.m., the time of day when the mind might start wandering, a railroad foreman named Phineas Gage filled a drill hole with gunpowder and turned his head to check on his men. It was the last normal moment of his life.
NIH Director's Blog,
2014 Electrical Excellence Award
Our (temporary) data center won the 2014 Electrical Excellence Award sponsored by the Los Angeles County Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Congrats to the engineers and contractors on this amazing project.
Glowing new images of the mouse brain represent the most comprehensive mapping yet of the mammalian cortex.
MIND Guest Blog, Scientific American,
A February 20 story on the MIND Guest Blog featured a comprehensive "roadmap" of the brain's neural connections developed by John Darrell Van Horn, PhD.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,
The journal article entitled "The hubs of the human connectome are generally implicated in the anatomy of brain disorders" was published in Brain on June 19, 2014. A summary of resulting news coverage is listed below.
Scientific American MIND, May 10th, 2014 Issue (interviewed)
National Geographic, May 10th, 2014 (interviewed)
Science News, May 12th, 2014 (interviewed)
USC Annenberg News, May 12th, 2014
iOp.com, May 11th, 2014
Science Daily, February 11, 2014
Article featured on the Frontiersin.org website, February 14th, 2014
Fast Company Design,
FastCoDesign.com highlights the progress of the Human Connectome Project in an article entitled "8 Mind-Blowing Images Of The Brain At Work."