Brain and Mind Institute-led research team wins coveted Human Brain Mapping Hackathon

July 1, 2013

A team of researchers fueled predominantly by Western's Brain and Mind Institute won a top prize in the Hackathon this past week at the 19th annual meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping in Seattle, Washington.

The team of Western researchers, which was led by Western neuroscientist Rhodri Cusack and also included a collaborator from Washington University, developed a novel approach to better understand how the human brain processes sounds.

For the winning entry, titled "No sound consensus," Cusack and his Brain and Mind Institute colleagues successfully mined terabytes (one terabyte equals one trillion bytes) of high-definition images showing connections in the brain from the Human Connectome Project and combined these samples with from the Allen Brain Atlas to identify distinct 's auditory cortex (the functions in the brain, which permit us to hear).

According to Cusack, while there is consensus among scientists on how the should be parceled up, such a clear structure has never before been demonstrated with the human .

"Moving forward, the structure we developed for the Hackathon will provide a framework for understanding how the human brain processes sounds, such as speech, music or environmental noises," explains Cusack. "This in turn will help us understand how this system can become disrupted, in developmental disorders like dyslexia, following brain injury due to disturbances like aphasia or amusia or even psychiatric conditions like hallucinations."

Any single type of data is subject to biases, so three types were fused by this international and multidisciplinary team of scientists using a diverse range of analytical approaches, software packages and programming languages. The team estimates that their entry used approximately one year's worth of processing time of the fastest processing cores in Amazon Web Services's cloud and followed more than 3.6 billion connections through the brain.

To present the results in an easily accessible way, the team developed a web-based interface that can be used to browse the parcellations and connectivity of each module, which can be found at

For more information on No sound consensus, please visit

Explore further: Neuroscientists get yes-no answers via brain activity

Related Stories

Help at hand for people with schizophrenia

May 24, 2013

How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.

Recommended for you

Rat brain atlas provides MR images for stereotaxic surgery

October 21, 2016

Boris Odintsov, senior research scientist at the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Thomas Brozoski, research professor ...

ALS study reveals role of RNA-binding proteins

October 20, 2016

Although only 10 percent of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases are hereditary, a significant number of them are caused by mutations that affect proteins that bind RNA, a type of genetic material. University of California ...

Imaging technique maps serotonin activity in living brains

October 20, 2016

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that's partly responsible for feelings of happiness and for mood regulation in humans. This makes it a common target for antidepressants, which block serotonin from being reabsorbed by neurons ...

Overcoming egocentricity increases self-control

October 19, 2016

Neurobiological models of self-control usually focus on brain mechanisms involved in impulse control and emotion regulation. Recent research at the University of Zurich shows that the mechanism for overcoming egocentricity ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.