By Ilona Lipp
2021 has been a busy year for OHBM. If you’re wondering what some of our committees and special interest groups (SIGs) have been and are up to, read on! We have contributions by the Aperture Oversight Committee, the Best Practices Committee, the Program Committee, the Scientific Advisory Board, the BrainArt SIG, the Sustainability and Environmental Action SIG and the Communications Committee.
Aperture Oversight Committee
The Aperture oversight committee, consisting of members of the OHBM community who want to push scientific publishing into the future, has been very busy over the past year. As you may know, the publishing platform, Aperture Neuro, has been launched and is open for business. The AOC is what created Aperture, which started as an idea of Jean-Baptiste Poline, the inaugural chair of the AOC. In the past year, Peter Bandettini took over leadership of the AOC, which serves to advice and strategize with the editor-in-chief of the Aperture, the managing editor, and the Aperture editorial board regarding all aspects of getting the journal started –- including the types of objects submitted, the submission-review-publishing workflow, journal finances, and its relationship to OHBM members and council. In addition, the AOC has initiated a fruitful relationship with an innovative publishing platform called Kotahi that will grow as the journal grows, and embrace most of the innovative ideas put forward for Aperture. Aperture Neuro aims to publish everything including traditional papers, but also tutorials, position papers, code, data, notebooks, and much more. Each of these have many practical challenges which continue to be worked through.
The AOC looks forward to a year of steady growth, and continual effort to work through all the growing pains and challenges of creating a truly novel and innovative publishing platform that provides high quality research in fall forms and pushes the science of brain mapping forward.
Best Practices Committee
Over the past several years, the OHBM has taken the important step of documenting and codifying neuroimaging and brain mapping best practices recommendations. Through a mandate from OHBM Council, the OHBM Best Practices Committee (BPC) was formed to explore, recommend, and sanction recommendations for conducting, reporting, and communicating neuroimaging study results and outcomes. This is most notably evident in the COBIDAS guidelines for the reporting of research methods and results, but it though also includes recommendations on how to harmonize language for describing brain networks, how clinical neuroimaging trials might be standardized, and as well as best practices for the reporting of EEG and /MEEG results.
Throughout 2021, the BPC met over three occasions to review new recommendations for neuroimaging research best practice, engage in discussion on new directions, and to get updates from current best practices working groups. What is more, the BPC memberships is actively engaging with other international organizations (e.g. the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility in Stockholm, Sweden) to draw upon existing best practice as well as promote OHBM recommendations wherever neuroimaging research is being conducted.
Through a process for rigorously developing, documenting, and disseminating best practice across the domains of human neuroimaging research, the OHBM BPC aims to promote science literacy, transparency, and reproducibility. The OHBM BPC looks forward to its ongoing activities in 2022 and to meeting in-person at the 28th OHBM Annual Meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. With BPC representatives from around the world, the BPC is eager to work closely with OHBM community stakeholders and partner organizations to further establish a culture of neuroscientific excellence, rigor, and 'FAIRness' over the next 25 years and beyond.
While OHBM is proud to reflect a diverse community and is being one of the few neuroscientific organizations with a true global standing, representation in the main programme—in particular the symposia—has lagged behind the standard we strive for. Somewhat soberingly, this has been the case even though the call for symposia has stressed the need for geographic and gender diversity for several years now.
We were considerate to avoid situations in which submissions paying attention to these values needed to compete in the evaluation with those that assembled a well established, but often not particularly diverse lineup. Consequently, I am glad that the program committee followed my proposal to make diversity not something that is desired but a necessity. That is, we require any submission to be gender-balanced and feature speakers from Asia, Europe and North America. We do understand that it may be tougher to put together a proposal that has a balanced gender and geographic distribution, which often requires looking for people outside one's own bubble. Yet, not only will this challenge now apply to all submitters rather than only to those who care about it, but maybe even more importantly, it also represents a great opportunity to the field.
Inevitably, requiring a diverse line-up in combination with the continued rule that each individual will only be able to participate in a single submission will yield unprecedented opportunities for researchers from less privileged backgrounds. It will bring new faces to the podium and new views to OHBM. Overall, we hope that the new requirements will provide an exciting impetus for a more diverse organization.
Scientific Advisory Board
The scientific advisory board, consisting of past council members of OHBM, serves several functions for the society. It is a group of leaders who have a perspective spanning the entire 25 year history of the meeting. This group serves as a deep well of institutional knowledge and experience, providing advice and insight to Council on matters that may involve learned lessons from the past. It is also very much forward-looking.
Initiatives that have been put forward by the SAB have been a continuation and growth of creating a living archive of leaders in the field through recorded interviews. In fact, the podcast, “OHBM Neurosalience” was initiated by the chair of the SAB, Peter Bandettini. The idea for this podcast emerged from discussions with the SAB on how to capture and preserve the science and the human side of this rich community.
Additionally, the SAB aims to provide more educational grounding to the brain imaging community through educational workshops and written tutorials, as it is clear that often neglected in this diverse community is basic education outside the specific expertise of each member. The physicist should have a basic education in functional neuroanatomy. The statistician should have some grounding in MRI physics and neurophysiology. Such complementary educational opportunities are many, and the SAB seeks to help with providing these.
The SAB is also looking to grow its stature and engagement with the popular press, governments, and policy makers. Brain mapping data catch attention but often contain nuance that is lost on the general public. Having members of the SAB as the points of contact for questions about the interpretation of popular brain mapping news would make an impact and increase the depth of appreciation for the brain mapping community by the rest of the world.
The SAB is just getting started in these ambitious goals but will certainly build momentum in the future.
BrainArt Special Interest Group (SIG)
Greetings from the BrainArt SIG,
You may know us as the group that puts together the Brain Art Exhibition of invited artists and the open Brain Art Competition at the OHBM Annual Meeting – but that is not all we do. Now, half-way to the next conference in June 2022, is a good time to mention some other ways we endeavour to bring brain art to the masses. First, we have a new website . We also have accounts on twitter and Instagram. Not so much into social media? We recently wrote an article about our activities and future plans. It is currently in review but the pre-print is here. However you reach us, we’ll be happy to hear from you.
Tying an occasion to a certain calendar or a certain event doesn’t ring true to everyone. So now, midway between two OHBM conferences, we would just simply like to wish you an inspiring and productive year of (neuro)science [sprinkled with some brain art].
We hope to see everyone at our BrainArt Exhibition either in Glasgow in person or via the online platform, and looking forward to the submissions of your own works to our BrainArt Competition!
Sustainability and Environmental Action SIG (SEA-SIG)
By Peer Herholz
SEA-SIG is now one year old, and in the last year, it has grown from 25 petition-signers for registering the new SIG, to a Committee of 13 members and 3 working groups, numbering nearly 50 human brain mappers, all working to raise awareness on and ultimately reduce the environmental footprint of neuroimaging research.
SEA-SIG’s activities are organized in three working groups.
The Neuroimaging Research Pipelines group is tackling sustainability in neuroimaging research by assessing the environmental costs of popular resource-intensive data and compute infrastructures (e.g. HPCs, Cloud) and analysis tools (e.g. FreeSurfer, fMRIPrep). Ultimately, the group aims to develop best practices for sustainable neuroimaging, in conjunction with Open Science workflows to promote dataset re-usage and provide tools to calculate and efficiently orchestrate neuroinformatic pipelines to reduce carbon footprint.
The Annual Meeting group is campaigning to make the OHBM meeting more sustainable, from improving conference centre practices, to reducing the carbon-intensive aviation that comes with international in-person meetings. We are currently preparing a report for OHBM Council on the carbon footprint of previous meetings, providing recommendations for the format of future OHBMs (such as hybrid and ‘hub’ models). An enhanced version of this report will be published in the Aperture journal so that all OHBM colleagues can see our suggestions.
The Education & Outreach group integrates the work done by the other working groups as well as the entire SEA-SIG to create open educational resources within a variety of media that can be distributed and utilized to efficiently communicate the respective results and obtained information. It additionally aims to connect and collaborate with other organizations, as well as institutions and industry partners to raise awareness and work towards more sustainable practices.
SEA-SIG is holding an open community meeting on 6th December for OHBM colleagues to share their views on sustainability and discuss what we need to be doing in the SIG and OHBM more widely (there will be two sessions for different timezones). Do come along and share your thoughts, and follow us on Twitter @OhbmEnvironment. You can also get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEA-SIG hopes to continue to grow over the coming year as more people become active in responding to the climate crisis. As well as continuing our own work on research pipelines and the annual meeting, we aim to make connections with other groups working on these problems around the world. At the same time, we will be running a symposium and a roundtable at OHBM2022 where we will be presenting research at the interface between the brain and climate and will provide the OHBM community a forum for voicing their opinions on climate-related issues.
Communications Committee (ComCom)
By Ilona Lipp
The OHBM Communication Committee are the ones who put together this blog post (and many others). ComCom is liaising with Council, the SIGs and committees to ensure that our members are up to date with what is happening. Together with current Council chair Randy Gollub, we have recently started producing a series on the planning of the Glasgow meeting 2022 and we will keep you informed on any developments.
On behalf of all the OHBM committees and SIGs, we wish all our members a great holiday period and a successful 2022.