The human brain contains billions of cells called neurons that rapidly carry information from one part of the brain to another. Progress in medical research and healthcare is hindered by the difficulty in understanding precisely which neurons are active at any given time. New brain imaging techniques and genetic tools allow researchers to track the activity of thousands of neurons in living animals over many months. However, these experiments produce large volumes of data that researchers currently have to analyze manually, which can take a long time and generate irreproducible results. There is a need to develop new computational tools to analyze such data. The new tools should be able to operate on standard computers rather than just specialist equipment as this would limit the use of the solutions to particularly well-funded research teams. Ideally, the tools should also be able to operate in real-time as several experimental and therapeutic scenarios, like the control of robotic limbs, require this. To address this need, Giovannucci et al. developed a new software package called CaImAn to analyze brain images on a large scale. Firstly, the team developed algorithms that are suitable to analyze large sets of data on laptops and other standardmore »
This content will become publicly available on February 17, 2023
Statistical Atlases and Automatic Labeling Strategies to Accelerate the Analysis of Social Insect Brain Evolution
Current methods used to quantify brain size and compartmental scaling relationships in studies of social insect brain evolution involve manual annotations of images from histological samples, confocal microscopy or other sources. This process is susceptible to human bias and error and requires time-consuming effort by expert annotators. Standardized brain atlases, constructed through 3D registration and automatic segmentation, surmount these issues while increasing throughput to robustly sample diverse morphological and behavioral phenotypes. Here we design and evaluate three strategies to construct statistical brain atlases, or templates, using ants as a model taxon. The first technique creates a template by registering multiple brains of the same species. Brain regions are manually annotated on the template, and the labels are transformed back to each individual brain to obtain an automatic annotation, or to any other brain aligned with the template. The second strategy also creates a template from multiple brain images but obtains labels as a consensus from multiple manual annotations of individual brains comprising the template. The third technique is based on a template comprising brains from multiple species and the consensus of their labels. We used volume similarity as a metric to evaluate the automatic segmentation produced by each method against more »
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