The Poldrack Lab is working on using brain activation maps to decode brain activity, looking at the correlation between different measures and brain images. They are also working on developing computational tools to help researchers better understand large datasets and to enhance the reproducibility of neuroscience research.

BACKGROUND Information

  • Different regions of the human brain contribute to a wide array of cognitive skills and behavioural phenotypes

  • Neuroscientists commonly use functional MRI and PET to obtain whole-brain scans and map neural activity in specific anatomical locations to task performance and emotional responses

  • NeuroVault.org is a platform for sharing, visualising and comparing such results

  • By pooling results from many experiments, scientists can better understand brain function in both normal and diseased brains

THE PROJECT

The purpose of Project NeuroVault is to expand upon the existing functionality of NeuroVault.org to allow scientist to compare their statistical maps with patterns of gene expression from Allen Brain Atlas.

fMRI data help scientists look into the structure and function of the brain but provides no information about gene expression within those regions. However, the Allen Brain Institute has constructed a detailed gene expression atlas to help connect the MRI data to gene expression patterns. The purpose of this project is to construct a tool to allow scientists to compare their statistical maps with patterns of gene expression from the Allen Brain Atlas.

A prototype model has been developed as a standalone Python application. It needs to be optimized and integrated into NeuroVault Django app. The main challenge will be the size of the full gene expression dataset (4Gb) and its concurrent use by multiple threads of the web app.

Technical Skills

We are looking for student with experience in or willingness to learn the following:

  • Python and JavaScript

  • Cloud deployment

  • Data optimization

  • Machine learning