Brain Mapping in Korea
BY THE KOREAN SOCIETY FOR HUMAN BRAIN MAPPING
The function and anatomy of the human brain are the basis of debates related to the inner workings of the human mind and body. Before the arrival of brain imaging technology, ethical dilemmas hindered neuroscientists who wished to conduct scientific studies on humans. Fortunately, neuroimaging techniques such as MRI, PET and SPECT have opened a new chapter in brain mapping. With the opening of “A New Window into the Human Brain” as Victor H. Fischer argued in 1962, researchers have been able to investigate not only human brain physiology and connectivity, but also its functionality, such as emotion and cognition, as well as numerous mental health disorders.
To keep pace with this emerging field of research, South Korea started its first society of brain imaging researchers, the Korean Society for Human Brain Mapping, or KHBM, in 2002. Given that modern human brain mapping utilizes cutting edge information technology (IT), the rapid development of the IT industry in Korea facilitated the early development of the KHBM. The Korean government promoted research and development in the IT industry early on in order to increase Korea’s share of the international information and communication technology market. This timely advance allowed for a positive feedback loop, in which the investment strategy in a variety of IT fields enhanced prompt industrial growth. In 2013, the Korean IT industry alone represented 30.9% of manufactured industrial products, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in comparison to 13.6% in 1997. At the same time, the biotechnology industry increased its share of the GDP by a factor of 12.7, from ₩0.59 trillion in 1997 to ₩7.51 trillion in 2013. Such statistics clearly illustrate the rise in the importance of medical technology in Korea.
The KHBM encompasses virtually all active Korean human brain researchers, including medical doctors, medical engineers, psychologists, and more, in order to encourage the study of brain dysfunctions, including those specific to Koreans. In addition, the KHBM aims to broaden the scope of brain studies by fostering information sharing among experts, while promoting improvements in brain mapping technology. For instance, one of the earliest topics of discussion at the KHBM conference in 2004 was the production of a standard Korean human brain map.
Recent topics covered at the KHBM conferences span a wide range of issues. For example, some researchers reported on medical issues, such as the localization of lesions involved in neuropsychiatric disorders using brain imaging technology and the effective use of statistical probabilistic anatomical maps. Other researchers focused on technology-related issues, including the effective use and differences among PET, MEG, and fMRI when investigating a variety of neurological disorders, and on the creation of an artificial cognitive system, based on the identified sensory regions of the brain. These studies are made possible by employing brain imaging technology to visualize the functional connectivity of the brain in vivo.
The members of the KHBM emphasize the necessity of new development and expansion of technology-based medical engineering expertise to improve the precision of medical apparatuses. This common goal of young neuroscientists and clinical researchers in South Korea motivates the theme of OHBM 2018, “Mapping the Interactions.” The theme not only embodies systematic efforts to create connections and develop mutual goals among researchers who study electrophysiology, metabolism, brain function and anatomy, but also epitomizes the determination of KHBM to promote interactions between theoretical research and clinical applications, between academia and the public, and between developed and developing nations.
The 2018 OHBM meeting will take place at the COEX Convention Center, located at the heart of Seoul. Seoul is well-known for its mixture of traditional and contemporary Korean culture. One of the most renowned examples of this fusion is Insa-dong, where artists display their creative works in an environment surrounded by traditional architecture. This vibrant city will provide a backdrop for the creative energy of the OHBM as it brings together researchers from all over the world.
The Korean Human Brain Mapping community cordially invites you to take part in the OHBM 2018 meeting at Seoul, to engage with other neuroscientists, to form connections, and to share and discuss our knowledge and passion for human brain research.
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