Brain mapping: Brain atlases with multiple topographic features

Just as land maps indicate many topographic features (e.g. waterways, landforms, vegetation), this project aims to map brain atlases that not only include sharp regional boundaries, but also smooth gradients and other key topographic features.

This project is about developing brain atlases that represent multiple topographic features, including discrete boundaries between regions, smooth gradients from one region to another, as well as more complex topographic structures. Current brain atlases invariably indicate only one feature—sharp regional boundaries—but we know that the brain exhibits a much richer set of topographic features. Topographic maps of land surfaces wouldn't be particularly useful if they only indicated one feature (e.g. waterways), but not landforms, vegetation and manmade structures!

Check out our recent research on a new technique called gradientography, which provides a principled approach to distinguish discrete boundaries in brain topography from gradients of continuous spatial variation. The latter are often misrepresented as discrete boundaries, resulting is brain atlases with spurious boundaries and over-parcellation. Further research is needed to investigate the fundamental topographic features that are needed to adequately map the topography of the human brain. This project aims to uncover the basic building blocks of brain topography and map new brain atlases that incorporate multiple topographic features.

Further research and key questions
  • Develop brain atlases that represent multiple topographic features, including boundaries, gradients and more complex topographic structures
  • What is the minimum set of topographic features that is needed to adequately represent brain topography?
Project leaders

Ye Tian & Andrew Zalesky

Further reading

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