Mesoscale Brain Mapping: Bridging Scales and Modalities in Neuroimaging

Martinos News

Recent advances both in the MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and elsewhere are driving the convergence of microscopic- and macroscopic-scale study of the brain for human translational neuroscience, by developing and applying tools to study the spatial distribution and temporal orchestration of mesoscopic events in the brain. On October 10, 2023, the Center for Mesoscale Mapping (CMM) at the Martinos Center and the HST-based Neuroimaging Training Program (NTP) hosted a symposium exploring the state-of-the-art in this burgeoning area of inquiry.

“Mesoscale Brain Mapping: Bridging Scales and Modalities in Neuroimaging” brought together researchers using a broad range of imaging techniques to study brain function at the intersection of the micro- and macro- scales. The daylong event was divided into two sessions, each covering topics centered on areas the CMM is currently exploring. The morning session — which delved into the “Why” of mesoscale mapping — addressed the clinical translational and basic neuroscience rationale for developing mesoscale capabilities. What are the current gaps in knowledge that mesoscale mapping can address, for example? In what areas is it likely to have the greatest impact?

The morning session featured presentations by Laura Lewis, PhD, and Jonathan Polimeni, PhD, and a panel discussion moderated by Randy Gollub, MD, PhD, and including Shahin Nasr, PhD, Roger Tootell, PhD, and Brian Edlow, MD, as well as Lewis and Polimeni.

The afternoon talks — the “How” portion of the day — focused on the technologies either currently available or under development for mesoscale mapping and the ways in which researchers are applying them. This session featured presentations by Elizabeth Hillman, PhD, (Columbia University) and Anastasia Yendiki, PhD, and a panel discussion moderated by Susie Huang, MD, PhD, and including Hui Wang, PhD, Larry Wald, PhD, Aapo Nummenmaa, PhD, Berkin Bilgic, PhD, Kawin Setsompop, Ph.D., as well as Hillman and Yendiki.

The session — and the symposium — ended with a fireside chat with Martinos Center director Bruce Rosen, MD, PhD and Harvard University professor Jeff Lichtman, MD, PhD. Both neuroimaging pioneers, Rosen and Lichtman discussed the next frontiers in mesoscale mapping, the opportunities the many new technologies afford.

One of the goals of the event was to begin to identify a broader community of researchers and others interested in mesoscale mapping of the brain, and in this it was entirely successful. The in-person symposium welcomed more than 150 attendees, including 57 faculty members, 61 postdoctoral fellows, 35 students (7 of which are current or past NTP trainees), and four industry professionals. And the attendees came from far and wide, representing institutions at the local, regional and international levels.

The symposium also served the training and dissemination goals of both the P41-funded CMM and the NTP. The event was planned collaboratively by the faculty and trainees. Many CMM faculty either presented or appeared on a panel, thus contributing to the dissemination of both the technologies they have developed under the auspices of the CMM and the findings they have obtained using those technologies.

Many NTP trainees who presented posters or gave “flash” oral presentations, especially benefited from the symposium. “In addition to gaining experience from presenting their work,” says Gollub, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, an affiliated faculty member in the Martinos Center and co-training director of the NTP, “they had opportunities throughout the day to engage in one-on-one discussions with visiting scientists and other faculty, potentially opening the door to future collaborations.”

Finally, CMM faculty and NTP trainees are working together to prepare a manuscript reporting out the scientific frontiers that were presented and discussed during the Symposium.

Supplementary Data

Geographical Distribution of Attendees’ Home Institutions

Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston Children’s Hospital
Boston University
Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Brown University
Columbia University
Stevens Insitute of Technology
Stony Brook University
Yale University

Ain Shams University Cairo Egypt
University Hospital Bonn, Germany & German Cancer Research Center Heidelberg, Germany