Healthy Brain Project
Like any other organ of the body, the brain needs to be assessed to evaluate its status. However, a comprehensive evaluation of brain structure and function is now impossible, mainly due to the lack of rigorous, effective, and efficient ways to combine diverse information, from various measurements, and reduce it to simple and meaningful measures of brain status. This research will be the first to address brain status by acquiring comprehensive, multimodal data from healthy humans across the lifespan to characterize brain status, assess its change over time, and associate composite descriptors of brain status. Specifically, the measurements are acquired noninvasively by existing neuroimaging technologies (structural MRI, functional MRI, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, diffusion MRI, and magnetoencephalography); in addition, genetic, cognitive, and language data are acquired. The research has three aims.
Aim 1: Distill, extract, and combine information from multi-modal, diverse sources to define Brain Health Index.
Aim 2: Place an individual's brain within a continuum among other brains, in the multidimensional, brain measurements space.
Aim 3: Determine a normative definition of brain health essentially equivalent to no brain disease.
The research will also provide insights into multimodal, neuroimaging data integration and will contribute to the development and extension of new tools for neuroimaging research. It is anticipated a major result will be the derivation and validation of a novel, multi-modal Brain Health Index. Results will be validated using longitudinal data to forecast future brain health and disease based on current measurements. The results of this work will directly inform neuroscience research and outcomes of this research will improve our overall understanding of brain structure and function. A major challenge is how to make sense of all this information while dealing with vast datasets, their association and integration. The research focuses on exactly this informatics issue, namely the design, operation and interaction among large, diverse datasets to discover key relations and apply them towards a unified assessment of brain status. A better understanding of the brain throughout the lifespan is especially valuable to the aging population with potential applications worldwide. The integrative assessment of brain status will provide a unified way to evaluate individuals, assess changes over time, potentially prevent disease by identifying problems early, guide physicians towards new interventions, and evaluate these interventions as they develop.