In a post in honor of Brain Awareness Week, Tom Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) raised the Human Connectome Project as one of this year’s major advances in brain science:
This year, this is a good time to note a few recent advances. In a few months, the Human Connectome Project will complete its multimodal study of 1,200 healthy adults, including 300 twin pairs. Already, data on over 500 subjects have been made public, creating an unprecedented treasure trove for students who want to explore individual variation in brain pathways. Like the Human Genome Project that created a fundamental map of our genetic sequence, the Human Connectome Project will provide a reference atlas of macro-level brain connections that can be used to study development, diseases, and species differences. Developmental connectomes and disease connectome projects will follow soon.
Insel mentions the surprising rise of interest and investment in brain mapping, both in the U.S., with the President’s BRAIN Initiative, and in other major efforts worldwide. The first 58 projects funded by the BRAIN Initiative have now begun and plans for funding new research and clinical tools through the BRAIN Initiative are unfolding.
The detailed information HCP is producing on connections and variability in the healthy human brain is providing a baseline set of knowledge on which applied projects in the BRAIN Initiative may develop tools for defining and ultimately treating mental disorders in patients.
Now available for download are an interim report and associated slides summarizing findings from the HCP Lifespan Pilot project being conducted by the WU-Minn and MGH-USC HCP consortia.
The ongoing HCP Lifespan Pilot is collecting multimodal imaging data acquired across the lifespan, in 6 age groups (4-6, 8-9, 14-15, 25-35, 45-55, 65-75) and using scanners that differ in field strength (3T, 7T) and maximum gradient strength (70-100 mT/m). The scanning protocols are similar to those for the WU-Minn Young Adult HCP, except shorter in duration.
The report should be of interest for those groups applying for the newly released FOAs from the NIH Blueprint:
Lifespan Human Connectome Project: Development (U01) for healthy subjects ages 5-21.
Human Connectome Project data from the current 500 Subjects + MEG2 Release is now available on the cloud through Amazon Web Services Public Data Sets initiative. This alternative way to accesss HCP image data allows users to process or analyze the data directly through Amazon Web Services, without having to download from ConnectomeDB or order Connectome in a Box drives.
The process of getting access to the HCP Amazon S3 bucket housing the data is easy, but does require an account on ConnectomeDB and the acceptance of HCP data use terms. Amazon S3 can be used for cloud-based HCP data processing (Amazon charges users for compute cycles) or as an alternative to Aspera for download of HCP data at no cost to the user (Note: in most cases, downloading HCP data through Amazon S3 WILL NOT be faster than Aspera-driven data download through ConnectomeDB). Information on setting up an AWS EC2 instance and processing is available here: EC2 Beginner Startup Advice.