Big Data and the Brain - Transforming Neuroscience Data into Knowledge

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Crystal Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Sean Hill , EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland
The data deluge in neuroscience is resulting in a revolutionary amount of brain data with new initiatives planning to acquire even more - but searching, accessing and analyzing this data remains a key challenge. The additional challenge of combining diverse datasets to find new relationships in the data requires careful annotation to achieve meaningful data integration. The Neuroinformatics Platform of the Human Brain Project will provide tools to manage, navigate and annotate spatially referenced brain atlases. The project will use these tools to create standardized multi-level atlases of the mouse and human brains, integrating data from the literature, other large-scale neuroscience initiatives, and smaller research groups, inside and outside the HBP. The publicly accessible atlases would provide new incentives for data sharing, and reduce unnecessary duplication of animal experiments. The HBP brain atlases will be the key source of data for the HBP’s Brain Simulation Platform. A second key component of the platform will be tools for predictive neuroinformatics. Today, there are so many known gaps in the experimental data, and so many new gaps waiting to be discovered that it will take decades of experiments to build a complete picture of brain structure and function, even in a single species. To help overcome this problem, HBP tools for predictive neuroinformatics will detect statistical regularities in the relationships among different levels of biological organization in different species, exploiting them to estimate parameters, which may not have to be measured experimentally. This technique has the potential to maximize the information extracted from experiments, reducing the number of duplicate experiments, and filling in gaps in our knowledge.