Standards and Guidelines for Digital Brain Atlasing

The INCF runs a program to establish standards and guidelines in the field of Digital Brain Atlasing.

The key aim of this project is to coordinate and im­prove the impact of atlasing projects, with a focus on ro­dent brain. As a step towards fostering global interopera­bility, accessibility and sharing of databases, the action started with a comprehensive analysis of the current and desired status of digital atlasing, which led to the vision and di­rection necessary to make the rapidly growing collection of multidimensional data such as images and gene ex­pression widely accessible and usable to the internation­al research community (1st Task Force Report). Central to this endeavor is a new standardization in atlas mapping, proposed as Waxholm Space (named after the site of a key meeting in 2008). Waxholm Space is a coordinate-based reference space for the mapping and registration of neuroanatomical data.

INCF has assembled a task force, consisting of leading ex­perts who have been involved in major atlasing projects worldwide, to bring data into the Waxholm Space and to establish procedures for registration and validation. To date, Waxholm Space has been clearly defined and its construction has begun by setting a standardized acqui­sition procedure for passing data into the Space, using a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) dataset and companion Nissl-stained reconstructions. The next steps include the registration of key reference atlases into this Space, and devel­opment of a set of “best practices” for experimenters to ensure Waxholm Space compatibility.

The longer term goal of this program is to establish a broader INCF Digital Atlasing Infrastructure to facilitate interoperability between atlases and data sharing. This infrastructure is envisioned as a collection of distributed services that support publication, discovery and invoca­tion of heterogeneous atlas resources.

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