By Claude Bajada
OHBM is a community of neuroscientists interested in neural cartography. It draws upon the traditions of 19th century neural mappers such as the Vogts, Brodmann and von Economo. While the spirit of the society is still based in the biological brain, the conference itself is multidisciplinary. Although still a place for biologists, anatomists, physicians and surgeons, thanks to the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging the field has become increasingly computational.
Thomas Yeo is an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore where he leads the Computational Brain Imaging Group. His lab develops machine learning algorithms for MRI data. His work is well known to brain imagers who are familiar with the “Yeo” brain networks. Ahead of his keynote lecture, I met Thomas and learned how he made the switch from engineering to neuroscience, what led him to working on the topics he is now well known for, and what the exciting new topics in his field are.
Claude Bajada (CB): From studying electrical engineering and computer science to getting into neuroscience what was the path? Or perhaps draw the graph.
Thomas Yeo (TY): To tell you the truth, my path was actually quite random. There was no sudden epiphany, no single life-changing event that led me down this path. As a kid, I was generally interested in the brain, but I was also interested in mathematics and physics. The best way to describe my path is that things just sort of happened. When I was deciding on PhD supervisors, I was debating between computer vision or medical vision. I ended up pursuing medical vision mainly because my PhD supervisor (Polina Golland) expressed the most interest in me joining her lab. At the time, I did not want to work with fMRI because it seemed too difficult. Consequently, I ended up working with both Polina and Bruce Fischl during my PhD, developing machine learning algorithms for registering and segmenting brain data on cortical surfaces. When my PhD was nearing its end, I was looking for a postdoc position, but I also wanted to try something new. I could either move closer towards image acquisition (MR physics) or towards the “end users” (neuroscientists/clinicians). Bruce mentioned that Randy Buckner was putting together a big dataset. At that time, there was not as much data sharing and not as many large datasets like today, so I was to join Randy’s lab, learn some neuroscience and analyze some large datasets. From then on, I was hooked onto neuroscience research, but with a computational bent because of my PhD training.
CB: As someone with a solid STEM background what are your experiences interacting with clinicians, psychologists and other health professionals?
TY: Interactions with clinicians, neuroscientists, and psychologists are extremely important to what I do. I have found that problems, which neuroscientists think are important, are often quite different from what I was interested in as a PhD student. Back then, I thought I was developing algorithms that were very helpful to neuroscientists/clinicians/psychologists. But after joining Randy’s lab, I realized that my algorithms are often not immediately relevant to what neuroscientists need. In engineering/computer science, there is the pressure to develop novel, beautiful, fast algorithms. However, at the Martinos center, where there is a very nice big computing cluster, speed is often not a pressing issue. Most neuroscientists also do not care about novelty or how elegant an algorithm is. They care about whether an algorithm can help to answer their question or help their patients. They don’t really care whether the algorithm involves lots of equations or just simple correlations. In fact, they prefer a simple algorithm to a complex algorithm unless I can demonstrate the complexity is really necessary. So working with neuroscientists has really changed how I think about problems.
On a day-to-day basis, I like to think about what interesting neuroscience problems can be formulated as machine learning problems. For example, around 2012, I became intrigued by Russ Poldrack’s 2006 paper on reverse inference. He had this beautiful figure showing that tasks recruit unobserved cognitive processes, which can then be observed with brain imaging, behavioral and other kind of data. I realized that the figure can be mathematically expressed using a hierarchical generative model. I then applied this model to real data to estimate the unobserved cognitive processes and discover new insights into brain organization. Throughout this project, I received a lot of inputs from quite a number of neuroscientists, who brought with them their own unique expertise and insights to the project. In fact, I met Simon Eickhoff and Maxwell Bertolero because of this project and we have since collaborated on many more projects. Later on, I realized that the same class of hierarchical generative model can be applied to understanding disease nosology: in this case, the model would encode the idea that different disorders or disorder subtypes share multiple disease processes, which can then be observed with brain imaging and behavioral data. This has in turn led to projects on disorder nosology with quite a number of folks. Thus, one project led to new collaborations, which led to even more collaborations.
CB: Your name is now almost synonymous with the 7 and 17 resting state “Yeo” networks. How did that work come about and how did it influence your subsequent career?
TY: As I was saying before, I ended up joining Randy’s lab as a postdoc because he was amassing a large dataset in collaboration with a large number of PIs in the Boston area. At that time, there was already a lot of work showing that resting-state fMRI can be used to extract different networks. Given that my PhD advisor (Bruce Fischl) is one of the creators of FreeSurfer, I ended up re-processing Randy’s data and projecting them onto the surface coordinate system to visualize the data. I then used a clustering technique developed by a fellow PhD student (Danial Lashkari) of my other PhD advisor (Polina Golland) to parcellate the cortex. Frankly speaking, most of the networks we found were already known in the literature, so to this date, I am not 100% sure why this paper became such a hit. Perhaps it was the large number of subjects. Or the surface coordinate system allowed us to see some very exquisite topography that were less obvious in the volume. For example, we showed that the existence of multiple parallel-distributed and interdigitated association networks. Or perhaps it was the comprehensiveness of the paper – 40 pages long. I like to joke that it’s my second thesis.
Without a doubt, the paper has been incredibly helpful for my career. I have a few students, who continue to push the frontier on this topic. Our work probably gets a disproportionate amount of attention, so my lab continues to benefit from the original paper. In some sense, I was very lucky. The technical aspects of the 2011/2012 papers (e.g., surface processing, clustering) were possible because of my PhD training. And I arrived in Randy’s lab at exactly the right time. If I came a year earlier, the data would not be ready. If I came a year later, the impact of the work might be overshadowed by similar papers (e.g., Jonathan Power’s work), which would have been published a lot earlier. I was lucky to have worked with super talented people in Randy’s lab, including Fenna Krienen (who was co-first author on the paper), Hesheng Liu, Jorge Sepulcre and of course Randy!
CB: What would you say is the most exciting topic in computational brain imaging at the moment?
TY: Given the large quantity of public data out there, I think this is an exciting time for human neuroscience. This is especially the case for computational scientists like me. I have found the big data to be very helpful for developing algorithms and applying them to discover new insights into the brain.
Given the large public investments in these datasets, I am also thinking a lot about how we can use these big data for useful applications, e.g., helping patients, etc. Consequently, I have become less interested in problems, such as classifying controls versus schizophrenia, which are useful for benchmarking algorithms, but not really useful for clinicians per se. There are definitely machine learning problems with real clinical value, e.g., predicting best treatment in depression, but there’s not that much big public data on that (although I can’t really complain since I am just a data leech).
Furthermore, the vast majority of machine learning algorithms only allow us to find associations. So no matter how “deep” the algorithms are, we are just finding glorified correlations, even if it’s out-of-sample prediction! Do these big data only allow us to find associations or can we gain mechanistic insights into the brain? On this front, I think biophysical modeling and causal modeling are potentially promising and exciting.
CB: You played an integral role in COBIDAS, what was the motivation for that and what influence do you think it has had?
TY: WelI, I wouldn’t say I played an integral role. I was one of many folks who contributed to the report. It was really Tom Nichols who had the unenviable task of “herding cats”! The OHBM Council initiated COBIDAS to develop recommendations and consensus on best neuroimaging practice. But soon it became clear that “neuroimaging” would cover too many things, so we ended up focusing on MRI. EEG/MEG COBIDAS is now spearheaded by Aina Puce and Cyril Pernet.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the COBIDAS report has not been as influential as I hope. We recommended a checklist of items that researchers should consider and report, but I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of papers (including from my lab) do not really do so. I am speculating here, but one reason might be that many researchers do not know sufficient details of their preprocessing pipelines or analysis algorithms to actually complete the checklist. The checklists are also very long, so researchers might balk at the work of filling them. I think the best way for this to happen is to try to automate the process. I can imagine some software that keep track of the preprocessing/analysis one performs on the data. These metadata can then be shared. I believe Tom Nichols and others might be working on this. This could be promising.
In the case of my lab, we mostly perform analysis of open datasets and we often develop our own algorithms. Unfortunately, I do not believe that there is a checklist long enough to completely specify an algorithm without access to the original code. Thus, my lab is more focused on sharing our code. Even then, replication is not so easy of course. While we work on open datasets, many datasets (e.g., UK Biobank) might not allow us to re-distribute the data. Thus, replicating our results is not so easy. If you explore our github (https://github.com/ThomasYeoLab/CBIG), you will see that our wrapper scripts often reference data on our server. But we have tried to make the code user friendly, so hopefully users can easily apply our code to their own data.
CB: What can we expect in the future from the Yeo lab?
TY: We have some new exciting individual-specific brain parcellations stuff coming out! We are also working on using machine learning and GPU to invert neural mass models; right now, these biophysical models mostly require hand-tuning of critical parameters. Finally, we are also working on using machine learning to understand disease nosology.
GENES, ENVIRONMENT, THE DEVELOPING BRAIN, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
By Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus
One of the most interesting questions when researching the developing brain is the level of impact of defined genetic and environmental factors. Dr Armin Raznahan, a Neuroscientist and a child psychiatrist, who serves as Chief of the Developmental Neurogenomics Unit in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), examines patterns of brain development in health and in groups with known neurogenetic disorders. His unique blending of basic and clinical neuroscience may help to identify risk pathways towards common psychiatric presentations, in addition to the insights it provides regarding the specific rare developmental disorder subtypes his clinical research protocols are focused on. I had the honor of interviewing Dr Raznahan, a keynote speaker in the upcoming OHBM 2019 conference, to find out more about his work.
Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus (THK): What is developmental neurogenomics, and what motivated you to go into this area of research?
Armin Raznahan (AR): I see Developmental Neurogenomics as a discipline that is concerned with brain development, and emphasises the role of genetic factors in patterning brain structure and function over development. Usage of the term Developmental Neurogenomics has increased in recent years, and for us, there is an additional emphasis within what I’ve just described on thinking about how genetic influences on the developing brain can contribute to psychiatric disorders. Coming from the perspective of my initial training as a child psychiatrist, there is that clinical element to what I do as well as the basic science questions about spatiotemporal patterning of the brain over development, and how genetic variation can contribute to that.
By Roselyne Chauvin
Recently, a Brain-Art Special Interest Group (SIG) was created within OHBM. This SIG will be officially managing the Brain-Art competition and exhibits that have been organized for several years by the Neuro Bureau. Each year the Brain-Art competition receives numerous submissions; the winners of this competition are then announced during the Student and Postdoc SIG and Neuro Bureau collaborative social evening at the OHBM annual meeting. Since the first exhibition in 2011, Brain-Art exhibitions have always been a great success. I was really happy to learn about the creation of the Brain-Art SIG and curious about the aim and perspective of development of its board. By officializing a Brain-Art dedicated group, art might start to take a bigger place in the OHBM scene.
I’ve always valued the interaction between Art and Science. It’s an amazing way to reach out to the general public and scientific pairs, and thus to promote scientific content. Every type of art can be used as a vessel to talk about science, such as music, dance, theatre, literature or painting. It can come directly from researchers or from their collaboration with artists. Programs such as Artists in Residence or Artists in lab promote that artist-scientist interaction by proposing to artists to stay few months in a lab in order to learn and get inspired for their art. The other way around works as well, researchers might see their work with another angle by doing art or interacting with artists, revealing new perspective.
As the Brain-Art competition 2019 just opened, let’s discover a bit more about this Brain-Art SIG and review the past editions of the competition and exhibits. You might even find inspiration on the way to participate in this year’s edition of the competition. To get to know about the Brain-Art SIG mission, I asked the board their personal experiences with Brain art and how this SIG came about.
Brain-Art SIG vision for OHBM: Interview with the board
Roselyne Chauvin (RC): So what is the view of Brain-Art SIG’s officials on art and science interactions and, personally, what motivated you to join the board of this SIG?
Alain Dagher, Chair (AD): My answer is roughly half-way between “Because Daniel M asked me” and “because art and neuroscience both often seek to explain the human experience.”
Valentina Borghesani, Secretary (VB): I agree with Alain: human beings are way too complex to be tackled only from a scientific perspective, one needs to embrace diverse forms of expression/investigation. Personally, while being totally void of any artistic talent whatsoever, I love being involved in the scientific community and do…the leg work! One day I saw on the brainhack slack workspace that they were looking for volunteers for this to-be-established SIG and… First lesson learned: things do escalate quickly around these folks!
Aman Badhwar, Chair-Elect (AB): As far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated by art, and started painting as a child. In my view, science and art both seek to observe, record and explain the world around us, just using different means. Both have their theoretical frameworks, evolving techniques, and schools of thought. Above all, both scientists and artists need to be creative and insightful in order to make meaningful contributions to their respective fields.
In one direction, I use painting as a means of communicating ideas from my scientific work to the public using the more visceral, emotional language of art. In the other direction, when grappling with a thorny scientific problem, the distinct focus required while painting frees my subconscious mind from conceptual boundaries and dogmatic ideas, and allows me to return to my scientific work with fresh eyes. Some people have told me that one cannot be a scientist and an artist at the same time, and that it is necessary to choose. Personally, I find that art synergizes with my academic endeavours, and provides me with a clarity that is sometimes hard to find in the barrage of scientific data.
I was first told about Neuro Bureau and its OHBM art competition by Pierre Bellec. It was 2014, and I was having my first solo art exhibit at CRIUGM, University of Montreal. The next thing I know I was having this intense conversation with this “highly energetic, mile a minute person” (well compared to me as I internalize my energy, and Pierre, I would say, is the opposite), who was convinced that I needed to submit my art to the Neuro Bureau art competition. I did not know who Pierre was, had never been to the OHBM, but the art was submitted, and a couple of months later, again a very enthusiastic Pierre informed me that I had won one of the categories. Life has a funny way of working sometimes, because the next year (2015), I found myself being a postdoc at Pierre B’s lab, going to my first OHBM meeting, and being intensely involved in the Neuro Bureau/OHBM art activities.
RC: Your Brain-Art SIG page states that you aim to:
Outside of the exhibit and competition, what other tasks would you like to start to reach these goals? I know that there is always multiple BrainHack projects related to new data-visualization tools. Will you consider proposing a special BrainHack on data visualization mixing scientist and artists? Or will we see the start of graphical abstracts for OHBM?
AD: I think that is a great idea. At the prosaic level, better data visualization can improve communication of scientific results, and ease the work of reviewers (making your paper more likely to be published).
But just as we need to emphasize the aesthetic side of brain imaging visualization, we also need to incorporate concepts of openness and reproducibility, i.e. make sure the data-to-image generation process is transparent.
VB: Improving our current scientific visualization practices is clearly one of the expected, let’s say, side effects. Graphical abstracts and cross-disciplinary hackathons sound great way to enrich our SIG activities! However, I would like to point out that our concept of Art cannot be resolved in visual arts, as we clearly stress with this year’s award categories. Only embracing the heterogeneity of tools and perspectives the Arts can offer us, we will appreciate the full potential of this dialogue. Neuroscience can definitely exploit this diversity when it comes to outreach, both within (interactive graphical abstracts? performative poster presentations? Why not!) and outside our community (e.g., reach the general public honoring the different ways information can be assimilated and digested). But the benefit of integrating more insights from the Arts will also be seen in how it will unleash scientists’ creativity and divergent thinking. It’s not only about finding new ways of showing our results, but also exploring new point of views.
RC: For now, you have a board that is composed of:
RC: I guess you might need more manpower to go on with these tasks, are you looking for more people in the SIG?
AD: Yes. We always need people to assist during OHBM for setting up the exhibition and helping during the conference. Also, always happy to see new ideas to take the project in new directions.
RC: I think the transfer of Brain-Art activities from the Neuro Bureau to this Brain-Art SIG is a great initiative to get more attention on the exhibit and to be able to communicate specifically about art. What motivated and when did you take the decision of creating the Brain-Art SIG?
VB: Over the years, the community of OHBM members interested in art-related initiatives kept growing. Giving it structure within an official SIG seemed like the best option to support its evolution. One key aspect is that the SIG promotes an open and transparent process allowing every OHBM member to contribute, e.g., joining our Slack community, following our activities online, volunteering to help, or joining as one of the SIG officials.
Retrospective of Brain-Art Competitions and Exhibits
The Neuro Bureau fostered the Brain-Art competition yearly since 2011. Every year, everyone can participate to the competition by submitting art pieces to specific categories. There is no limit in the number of submission per person.
The constant categories are:
In addition, one or two special topics are proposed every year and reflected trendy topics in the field of neuroimaging:
As for the main contributors and most consistent over the years, we can find several submissions from Katja Heuer, AmanPreet Badhwar, Roberto Toro, Michel Thiebaut de Schotten, Benedicte Batrancourt or also Lucina Uddin.
It’s only recently that the Brain-Art exhibit was proposed. The first exhibition called “Crossing fibers: A retrospectroscopic view” was proposed at OHBM 2015 in Hawaï and later displayed in Germany (2015,honolulu, berlin and Leipzig). This exhibits featured the best art from the Brain-Art competition and, to support the initiative, people could buy posters of their favorite piece.
In OHBM 2017, a new exhibit was proposed to present the new art from the Brain-Art competition (read more about the OHBM 2017 exhibit) and presenting an art piece called Dream Sessions. Created by Nathalie Regard and Roberto Toro, this dream log of 101 nights was not only a piece of art but also a tool to study the EEG recordings done during these nights.
In OHBM 2018, together with the Brain-Art competition best art pieces, the exhibition featured a local singaporean artist, Shubigi Rao (2018), inspired by her knowledge of neuroscience. Conference attendees were able to discover mesmerizing representations of creatures with complex nervous system.
The Brain-Art SIG is currently working on setting up the exhibit of OHBM 2019 that is entitled: “Ars Cerebri : Creativity stemming from, and at the service of, neuroscience.”
Inspired by the ancient Muses, this year exhibition will feature pieces covering multiple domains of the Arts sharing one common denominator: they are the fruits of the creativity that stems from or is inspired by neuroscientific research. Whether established or emerging, different artists and scientists will contribute their personal and unique works produced under the Muses' power of inspiration. Static as well as dynamic pieces will be exhibited during the main conference (June 9-13, 2019) in the heart of the Auditorium. In addition, a special evening event showcasing live performances will be held on Monday the 10th.
The SIG just opened The Brain-Art Competition 2019 and this year, we see a renew of categories with an emphasis on different types of art and more dimensions. A major novelty is the dedicated categories for text and live performances. This year's exhibit will go further than visual arts.
The categories for this are:
You can submit your art pieces/illustration/representation before the 11:59PM CDT, Wednesday, May 29th, 2019.
To stay updated and participate in the Brain-Art SIG activity, join their slack workspace!
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/OHBM_BrainArt
Slack workspace: ohbmbrainart.slack.com
Peter Fox is a Professor of Neurology and has been a director of the Research Imaging Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Centre, San Antonio since 1991. He’s a co-founder of the journal Human Brain Mapping (with Jack Lancaster), a founding member of the International Consortium for Brain Mapping and has consistently been listed as one of the top 100 most cited neuroscientists since 2004.
Peter Fox has played an integral role in the founding and development of OHBM, serving as Chair in 2004-05. We found out about his major academic achievements and experiences with OHBM.
About that time, articles started appearing in journals and being covered in Scientific American about what the Danes were doing with single photon studies. They started off with language studies, identifying that during language listening, there was a lot going on in the frontal lobes, and that the right hemisphere was involved, two points that nobody had anticipated. At that point, I knew that I wanted to study people, and I figured the only real way to do that was to go to medical school and to become a clinical neuroscientist. Then I could do this kind of work.
What do you see happening with neuroimaging in the US these days?
PF: In the area that I'm most involved in, and the sort of grants that I review, what I'm seeing as a strong trend, pushed both by the investigators and by the funding agencies, is using neuroimaging as a demonstration of the neurobiology of treatments. And the expectation is that if you're going to test a new treatment, if you're going to do a clinical trial in a neurological disorder or psychiatric disorder, you won't be funded unless you can establish the neurobiological mechanism. Imaging is the way to do that. So it's moved from being really basic science to clinical neuroscience, and the interface between the treatments and theory. I think that's a really powerful and appropriate role, and a way of moving neuroimaging into demonstrably helping humankind at large. So I think that's a very important and powerful direction that the field is going in.
What research or other contributions are you most proud of in your career?
PF: Two areas that I was very pleased to have been involved in were both at about the same time. One is doing the original studies demonstrating that blood flow and metabolism are uncoupled or are engaged in a very complicated relationship. Those observations gave rise pretty much immediately to the development of functional MRI. And in particular, the prediction of the BOLD signal. The people who described it, predicted it, and cited the work that we had just published, said, “If Fox and Raichle are correct then that would predict this, and we should get a signal like this”, and that was correct. Now BOLD fMRI has become the dominant technique for brain mapping. And so the lineage there is really quite clear. And so I'd say that was a lot of fun.
Another area that I've been really pleased with how well early ideas evolved, and were adopted, is introducing standardized coordinates. And so when I started doing mapping studies, right away, I was unsatisfied with the ability to say where we were. And I looked around, and there weren't many examples, but people were mostly naming things by gyri. That, to me, seemed not enough. So I spent time looking for alternatives and came across Talairach's 1967 Atlas and some papers referencing that. So we developed a way of putting the images I was acquiring into Talairach space, and published that method, and encouraged people to adopt it. So ultimately, that has become the standard. And so really, everything is published in standardized coordinates, originally Talairach coordinates, but now the 1988 Talairach and MNI, and there's various versions, but still, they are translatable from one to another. And so the format that we all publish and analyze our data in, I had the opportunity to introduce and so that's real fun, I enjoyed that.
You played a part in the creation of OHBM. What was that like? And how did you imagine OHBM would be like?
PF: When I was just starting out in San Antonio, I'd been working on the brain map database for a few years. We were trying to develop a data sharing mechanism that used standardized coordinates, to give people a way of sharing their data, or at least sharing their results, if not their original data. I received funding for quite a few years to bring people to San Antonio. I focused on bringing people that were having the most influence on methods development. We had two days of methods talks, always in the same organization. There were algorithms for data analysis; Karl Friston always ran that as a half day session. And there was a session on databases that I ran. There was a session on spatial normalization and [Jack] Lancaster ran that, and there was a session on merging different imaging modalities. We did that year after year and after about the third year, this was a meeting of about 200 people. I got grants to bring people and the people that kept coming year after year, said, we should open this up to a bigger community.
I said, that's fine with me. And they said, you do it Peter, but I thought 'No, I like doing meetings this size. I'll do one later, but I don't want to do the first big meeting.’ Bernard Mazoyer and Per Roland said they'd do it, but they wanted guaranteed support because they didn't know how to do it. And so everybody there, [John] Mazziotta and [Karl] Friston and [Richard] Frackowiak and Leslie Ungerleider all said, we'll bring our labs. So with that kind of agreement, Bernard and Per went forward and did it. And then that just kicked it off. And it's rolled since then.
What have you found most rewarding about your involvement with OHBM?
PF: I've been to many different meetings. I think it's a very widely held opinion that the standard of science at OHBM is the best of any meeting that I've ever been to. It's very sophisticated, and has very high expectations. Clinical meetings are not this good by a long shot, they are not. Another thing is the inclusivity of this meeting; it's been that way from the start. We have mathematicians and statisticians and physicists and engineers, psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists, everybody comes together. That's very unusual. The third thing that I think is really fun about this meeting is the international scope of it. And the gender balance. Many clinical meetings, many clinical studies are not very gender balanced. They're male predominant a lot of them, particularly imaging. So for instance Radiology is 80% males. And at this OHBM meeting in Singapore it’s pretty much 50:50, male to female. That's very unusual. So I think there's a lot of unusual things about this meeting.
What memory stands out when you think about your experiences with OHBM?
PF: I remember being the council chair in Toronto and that was amazing. That was really a lot of fun. And I definitely remember we got sponsored to host a party. Just the council chair hosted a party; that was a spectacular party. So we've been to a lot of really outstanding social events involved with OHBM.
What changes have you seen in OHBM over the years?
PF: I'm as impressed with what doesn't change as what does change. Certainly, the recent changes have been that there's much more social media outreach, and proactive engagement of young people, trying to attract people into this field and making a very complicated field as approachable as it can be. High marks for that - that's really an excellent initiative. And honestly, I think OHBM is doing that better than any other organization that I've been exposed to. It's very proactive, it's very positive.
But, to me, equally impressive, is that the overall concept of the meeting, the organization of the meeting, how the program committee approaches the meeting, just the style of the meeting, was created early. If you went to the first OHBM and you went to the current OHBM you would see strong similarities. The intention of the meeting and what is attempted, what's being done, is giving you the most cutting edge applications, the most cutting edge methods, trying to span cognitive and clinical neuroscience, that was present from day one. And that really creates an outstanding feel, flavor and content for this meeting. And so I'm just as happy with what has persisted as with what has evolved.
So what do you see as the future for neuroimaging?
PF: I mentioned earlier that I think neuroimaging has a huge role in treatment development. I expect that to continue. Another direction that I really think the field will have to push on and be open and kind of aggressive in bringing people in, is pushing down into the basic neurobiological mechanisms underlying the imaging signals that we have. And so collaborating with people working in animal models, and working with techniques that are more invasive than our techniques, such as optical techniques that we need to do. And we need to really encourage scientists working at that level to bring their work to OHBM. So I think those are the directions that are important for us to go.
Professor Fox it's been great. Thank you very much.
PF: Yeah. Thank you.
By Shruti Vij & Nils Muhlert
Functional MRI has been in use for over 25 years. Despite providing us with a breadth of methods developments and exciting findings about how the brain works, there has been a dearth of clinical applications. The OHBM Alpine Chapter has been keenly focussed on ways in which we can translate fMRI and other neuroimaging modalities to the clinic. Founded in 2014, the Alpine Chapter has provide a forum for like-minded brain mappers, both basic scientists and clinicians, throughout Austria, Switzerland, Germany and neighbouring countries to discuss new methods, new projects and to collaborate on programs of research. Here, Shruti Vij spoke to the past and current Chairs, Roland Beisteiner and Christoph Stippich respectively, to find out how the Chapter has developed and its directions for growth.
by Aina Puce & Bernard Mazoyer, OHBM Program Committee
In the late 1980’s, neuroimagers were a ragged band of multi-disciplinary researchers with no real home. In search of their scientific interests, they attended meetings covering radiology, nuclear medicine, neurophysiology, engineering, image processing and computer science. Starting in 1992, a small group of internationally well-known neuroimagers had attended a series of 8 annual BrainMap Workshops in San Antonio devoted to promoting the development of standard space as an analysis and reporting standard, with discussions also related to development of open-access neuroimaging archives. These meetings were organized by Peter Fox [USA] and funded by NIH [USA] R13 awards. After one such meeting in 1994, the crying need for a home of their own was the central issue discussed around a table of 25 scientists who became the driving force behind what would become OHBM. At the meeting, Dr. Bernard Mazoyer [France] volunteered to host a first launch of such an international conference, with a second meeting in Boston, USA to be held in 1996 and organized by Jack Belliveau and Bruce Rosen. The rest is history.
Mazoyer and colleagues Per Roland [Sweden] and Rudiger Seitz [Germany] hosted the meeting in Paris, France in June 1995. Incredibly 820 attendees came to the first meeting – greatly exceeding the organizers’ expectations! The meeting consisted of talks and poster sessions. The inaugural Talairach keynote lecture was given by Dr Jean Talairach – the French neurosurgeon who pioneered the use of a standardized stereotactic grid system for neurosurgery.
OHBM officially became an Organization in 1997 with ratified by-laws and the potential to elect office bearers [OHBM Council, OHBM Program Committee]. Indeed, many of the first OHBM Council Chairs were scientists who had participated in the original BrainMap Workshops. Over the past 25 years, the OHBM has taken on multiple new responsibilities, effectively functioning as a Society while retaining its original name. Therefore, it finally became a Society in 2018 – ratified by the OHBM membership at the annual meeting in Singapore – allowing the official sanctioning of year-round activities of ‘Chapters’ in different international communities.
In the mid-1990s, the neuroimaging zeitgeist was such that Positron Emission Tomography [PET] was an established neuroimaging modality, with activation studies of cerebral blood flow and glucose metabolism being performed in both humans and animals. The requirement of a nearby cyclotron meant that PET was largely confined to the largest institutions with clinical and/or research imaging centers. The 1995 Paris neuroimaging meeting was actually a satellite meeting for the Brain PET meeting in Cologne. At the time, only a few groups were performing functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] studies. Analysis software was vestigial – the first generation of Statistical Parametric Mapping [SPM] software for PET data analysis was available – with the first methods papers being published by Karl Friston in 1990/1991 [see https://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/spm/doc/history.html]. Software packages for fMRI were being developed e.g. Analysis of Functional Images [AFNI] by Bob Cox at the Medical College of Wisconsin began in 1994 [see https://afni.nimh.nih.gov/afni_history], and SPM for fMRI came about from a number of attempts at implementing data analysis from Friston’s group in 1995. Magnetoencephalography [MEG] and electroencephalography [EEG] were already established neurophysiological methods in the mid-1990s, with their own specialized smaller scientific meetings. High-density MEG/EEG recordings were still not that common. Most of the book of 404 abstracts for the Paris meeting was devoted to brain activation studies, with 27% devoted to fMRI methods, 6% to the nature of the BOLD response, and 9% to MEG-EEG.
The OHBM has been a hub for the neuroimaging community, gradually incorporating additional MRI-based methods such as quantification of grey matter and white matter, formulation of anatomical atlases. Efforts to encourage the involvement of more basic and clinical researchers performing MEG and EEG studies are also being made. Right from the outset, OHBM has recognized the importance of having an educational program [initially organized by Peter Bandettini from 1998-2000], with weekend education sessions being added as early as 1998, and morning education sessions commencing in 2000 for OHBM in San Antonio. In 2000, Peter Fox, obtained a 5-year NIH R13 grant whose $25,000/year proceeds were devoted to 25 travel awards for OHBM trainees, based on abstracts with the highest peer-reviews. This grant was extremely helpful in kickstarting engagement from new scientists just starting out in functional neuroimaging and launched the OHBM Trainee Travel Award Program. In 2005, Peter Fox succeeded in obtaining a renewal for this 5-year grant with an increased budget of $50,000/year. After 10 years of NIH travel awards to the tune of $750,000 and increasing attendances at OHBM meetings, OHBM had enough financial reserve to continue the travel award program and the NIH-grant was allowed to lapse. Additionally, the neuroimaging journals NeuroImage and Human Brain Mapping were spawned for this community. NeuroImage was an existing Elsevier journal that was transformed to be a forum for [mainly human] PET and fMRI studies by Editors Art Toga, Richard Frackowiak, and John Mazziotta , whereas Human Brain Mapping was started de novo by Peter Fox for Wiley . Both Human Brain Mapping and NeuroImage were the source of OHBM abstract books for the first few years. Additional journals for neuroimaging and related disciplines have been added since those times e.g. Brain Connectivity [Christopher Pawela & Bharat Biswal] and Brain Structure and Function [Laszlo Zaborszky & Karl Zilles]. All of these senior scientists have been active in the OHBM community. Indeed, Editors for all of these journals continue to come largely from the OHBM community. In addition to journal-based activity, early efforts to standardize data formats and data sharing were occurring at the time. For example, in the early ‘90s, workshops for the International Consortium on Brain Mapping [beginning in 1992 and co-ordinated by John Mazziotta] and for the European Computerized Human Brain Database [beginning in 1994 and co-ordinated by Per Roland] were run in addition to the San Antonio BrainMap Workshops.
A set of awards recognize the achievements of OHBM Members. An award devoted to recognizing excellence in early career neuroimagers began as the Wiley Young Investigator Award [first awarded to Karl Friston in 1996]. In 2016, it became the OHBM Early Career Investigator Award. Other OHBM awards include the Education in Neuroimaging Award [first awarded to JB Poline in 2013], the Replication Award [first awarded to Wouter Boekel in 2017]. In 2014 OHBM awarded the Glass Brain Award to Karl Zilles – created to recognize the lifetime achievements of scientists in the field of human neuroimaging. From 2005, OHBM has also been very fortunate to have the Editors-in-Chief of the journals Human Brain Mapping and NeuroImage also announce their Editor’s Choice Award for the best paper in their respective journals at the opening ceremony of each OHBM meeting.
OHBM is a Society that is known to be inclusive and to change with the times. Its Council and Scientific Program Committee have existed from the early years . In response to current issues, committees such as a Diversity & Gender Committee, a Communications Committee, and the OHBM Publishing Initiatives Committee, among others, have been more recently constituted. The Communication committee has its hands full improving the OHBM website - providing ‘on demand’ education program  consisting of resources such as videoed lectures from previous meetings and educational materials, running a blog , among other things. OHBM also is an inclusive Society as indicated by its Code of Conduct Statement [see https://www.humanbrainmapping.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3912 ]. Three special interest groups [SIGs] devoted to Students & Post-docs, Open Science and Brain-Art are also now part of OHBM. As OHBM has grown, a professional secretariat soon become necessary, which has helped to preserve institutional knowledge and to increase professionalism. Initially, in the early 2000s Lori Anderson and her team [from a US-based company called L&L] fulfilled that role. Nowadays these greatly expanded functions are fulfilled by the OHBM Executive Office, based in Minneapolis, USA.
Over the years the OHBM Annual Scientific Meeting has alternated between the European, Asian and North American continents, with occasional detours to places such as Australia. Attendee numbers have steadily grown over the years – first surpassing 3000 in 2005 when the meeting was held in Florence, Italy. Indeed, the 25th anniversary of scientific neuroimaging meeting in Rome, Italy promises to be a bumper year – with over 3700 abstract submissions and attendee numbers expected to be around 4000! This year’s meeting will be an exciting one – not only for the new science being presented, but also for the nostalgic look back at the previous 25 years of meetings being prepared by members of OHBMs Scientific Advisory Board – individuals who have been part of the history of OHBM.
We look forward to seeing you at OHBM in Rome on June 9-13, 2019!