Before entering the scanner, each of the 1200 participants in the Human Connectome Project will undergo a series of tests to measure their motor, cognitive, sensory, and emotional function. These behavioral measurements will help the HCP understand how individual differences in ability and personality contribute to patterns of structural and functional connectivity in the healthy adult human brain.
HCP is currently piloting the use of many behavioral tools to assess mental function and behavior, including the over 40 assessment tools developed for the NIH Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function. In addition, HCP is utilizing several tools developed and tested in published studies by other prominent imaging scientists to allow for further comparisons of HCP data with other large scale imaging acquisition efforts.
Specifically, five measures that have been devised by Ruben Gur, Ph.D., Raquel Gur, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues from University of Pennsylvania are being integrated into the HCP battery. These tools are currently being used in studies by the Gur group themselves, and a subset of these are being used by the laboratory of Randy Buckner, Ph.D. at Harvard University. HCP will also include the Achenbach Adult Self Report, which is used by the laboratory of Michael Milham, M.D., Ph.D. at New York University. Using the same behavioral tests that are used in the large neuroimaging studies conducted by these groups has important advantages for the HCP:
“The inclusion of measures that will allow us to harmonize across data sets will serve three purposes,” says Deanna Barch, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Radiology at Washington University. “First, it will allow us to qualitatively compare results obtained on different samples [of subjects]. Second, it would allow us to combine data sets in cases where larger sample sizes may be beneficial for certain types of analysis, or where one wishes to expand the range of certain characteristics (e.g., age) by combining samples. Third, it would allow us to do explicit quantitative replication studies across samples.”
HCP is also working with the Gur group to implement four additional behavioral measures of specific interest to the HCP into the Gur software platform. Integrating all the HCP behavioral tests into one platform will allow tests to be administered to participants in a time-efficient, consistent format and will facilitate their inclusion in future imaging projects.