Connectivity Course: Structural and Functional Brain Connectivity via MRI and fMRI
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The Martinos Center introduced a new five-day program on functional and structural connectivity using MRI in December, 2012. The next editions will be similar, with more time for hands-on exploration of the associated software tools. Issues associated with "connectivity" within the human brain are of increasing importance, as reflected in the large number of abstracts, research articles, and even entire journals devoted to this area, as well as the increased emphasis on lesions in connections as being 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 also 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). Participants will learn about the technical challenges in acquisition, data processing and visualization of brain networks via functional MRI data. Participants will also receive a firm grounding in the power and limitations associated with using diffusion-sensitive MRI to detect and organize the anatomical structure of white matter tracts in the living human brain. The primary goal of this 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), except 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 strutural and functional images. Faculty: The core faculty 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 will include representives of the NIH, Child Mind Institute of New York and others.
When & Where: This 5-day program will run Wednesday-Sunday. It will be held at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging in Charlestown, Massachusetts, a part of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Abbreviations: There is not yet a standardized way to refer to the portion of the program associated with using MRI to examine the networks whose existence is demonstrated by correlated activity as revealed by BOLD-based MRI data collected during rest and/or cognitive activity. "fMRI" or "FMRI" typically refers to "Functional" MRI data based on Blood Oxygen Level Dependent contrast mechanisms, though "fMRI" can also refer to ASL-based data. "fcMRI" (functional connectivity MRI) and "rs-fMRI," "rsfMRI," "RS-fMRI," etc, can all be found in the literature. But data collected during cognitive tasks can also reveal networks of activity; it is not necessary to collect such data while the subject is at rest. Hence, one can see abbreviations such as "rs-fcMRI" in the literature, but there is no single abbreviation that captures the variety of uses to which we will be referring during the week.
Please use our REGISTRATION FORM to register. Enrollment is limited; early registration is recommended.
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Minimum and Maximum Number of Participants
Because this is a relatively new program, we are uncertain about the level of interest. However, based on the large turnout in December of 2012, we expect to easily reach the "minimum requirements for the number of participants," which is 20. In the unlikely event that this number is not reached 6 weeks prior to the program, a decision will be made at that time as to whether the program will be cancelled or postponed.
Funding and Registration Fees
This program, like the fMRI Visiting Fellowship Program, is sponsored in part by the Athinoula A Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, which provides some faculty, space, and various imaging resources. The remainder of the funding is provided by participant tuition. This tuition will be: US$1500 for regular participants and US$1000 for graduate students. (Post-doctoral participants are normally considered "regular" and subject to the US$1500 fee. However, those post-doctoral fellows who are unable to get institutional or grant funding, and must therefore pay the tuition out-of-pocket, are eligible for a discounted rate of US$1250.)
Information regarding recommended and alternative accommodations can be found here.