Monday, November 17, 2014

Big data in Neuroscience

I want to pass on an interesting graphic from a piece by Sejnowski, Churchland, and Movshon that introduces a "Focus on big data" series of articles in the November issue of Nature Neuroscience, on the challenges presented by the overwhelming flood of data on the brain being generated by new recording and visualization techniques, from the ultra-micro to the macro scale. (I'm afraid on looking at the whole ensemble of articles I quickly start seeing only gibble-gabble as my-eyes-glaze-over...) The graphic illustrates the spatial and temporal domain, and the increase in the number, of techniques that have appeared since 1988.

Each colored region represents the useful domain of spatial and temporal resolution for one method available for the study of the brain. Open regions represent measurement techniques; filled regions, perturbation techniques. Inset, a cartoon rendition of the methods available in 1988, notable for the large gaps where no useful method existed. The regions allocated to each domain are somewhat arbitrary and represent our own estimates. EEG, electroencephalography; MEG, magnetoencephalography; PET, positron emission tomography; VSD, voltage-sensitive dye; TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation; 2-DG, 2-deoxyglucose.

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