OCTOBER 26-30, 2020 – Virtual course
Issues associated with “connectivity” within the human brain are growing in importance. This can be seen in the significant number of abstracts, research articles and even entire journals devoted to this area, as well as in the increased emphasis on lesions in connections as a source of many neuro-psychiatric disorders. MRI has proven to be a valuable tool for examining connectivity both in terms of the coordinated activities of neural networks (using BOLD-based fMRI data collected during rest and during tasks) and in terms of the structural anatomy of white matter pathways of the brain (using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) and Tractography to analyze and visualize the resulting data).
In this five-day program, participants will learn about the technical challenges in acquisition, data processing and visualization of brain networks via functional MRI data. They will also receive a firm grounding in the power and limitations of using diffusion-sensitive MRI to detect and organize the anatomical structure of white matter tracts in the living human brain.
The primary goal of the program is to give researchers and clinicians a good “running start” for their investigations using these tools. In that sense, it serves a purpose analogous to that of the long-running Martinos Center’s Functional MRI Visiting Fellowship Program (fMRIVFP), with the exception that the domain will be structural and functional connectivity of myelinated fiber tracts within the living human brain. The “active component” of the program will be the use of software tools to promote quality assurance in the data, detect outliers and other problematic attributes of the data, optimize data acquisition, and flexibly visualize the data in the service of asking and answering specific questions. Participants will be expected (though not required) to bring a suitable laptop computer for engaging in the “hands-on” exercises of the program. There will also be a section on the “connectome MRI” machine that uses exceptionally strong gradients to enhance data acquisition of structural and functional images.
The core faculty for the program is drawn from the staff of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center (of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and affiliated faculty from Harvard University, McLean Hospital and other local institutions. Guest lecturers include representatives of the NIH, the Child Mind Institute of New York and others.