The BIRN currently mediates information flow among a consortium of technologically advanced neuroscience Web resources. It is not designed to serve the world community as a single-entry portal to neuroscience on the Web. That functionality will be introduced by integration of the portal component of BrainInfo into the BIRN over the summer and fall of 2008. The myriad links that underlie that functionality have been forged over many years, and will continue to be forged by the BIRN in years to come. The main purpose of this proposal is to integrate into the BIRN the second major component of BrainInfo, its 3-dimensional digital brain Atlas. The Atlas was created for spatial mapping of data into a `database in the shape of a brain'. Each image from the literature is adjusted for individual variability by 'mapping'the data it contains into the reference Atlas for comparison with other mapped data. Data will be accessible via the BIRN single-entry point. The BIRN/BrainInfo Atlas will give the neuroscience community a single interface to macaque brain images. The Macaque Atlas will be populated with data maps from a large portion of the total images published in the neuroscience literature. We will also recruit and train a number of qualified neuroscientists to enter their own data. We believe they will recognize the value to their own research of using a common Atlas where they can compare it with other research in the same species. The project will also integrate an existing BIRN 3D Mouse Atlas into the system. This will provide a working model for atlasing data from the rodent neuroscience literature in the same manner as macaque data. Retrieval of semantic information through the Web Portal will rely on a semantic database, searchable via NeuroNames, a widely accepted neuroscience ontology. Similarly, retrieval of image data in the Atlas through the Portal will rely on a spatial database searchable by location in the brain. Quick access to both semantic and image data through the BIRN will accelerate the translation of research findings into treatment of brain disorders like depression, schizophrenia, dementia, autism, and addiction.
The findings of brain research are often expressed as pictures. By mapping these pictures to a single image of the brain, the project will enable scientists to locate and compare a wide range of results far more quickly. Rapid computerized access to findings in each part of the brain will accelerate creativity and progress in the effort to find treatments for brain diseases.