Research

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As three or four dimensional (3-D, 3-D + time) imaging is the only technique to quantify the brain structure and function in living humans at the system level, analyzing brain imaging data has a unique position within neuroscience. Rapid advances in non-invasive neuroimaging methods have increased the possibilities to study changes occurring in human brain across a variety of time-scales ranging from seconds to entire life span. A large part of these advances can be attributed to the development of dedicated computational algorithms and applied mathematics, which are essential to extract quantitative information from images. My group develops these computational methods to analyze brain imaging data, evaluates the methods, for example, by using advanced simulations, and openly distributes the programs implementing the methods.

Projects (as PI):

Predictive brain image analysis (PI J. Tohka, funded by Academy of Finland, active 2018 - 2022). Minute changes in brain structure and function precede visible symptoms in brain diseases. These changes are observable by combining brain imaging and advanced computational data-analysis techniques. In this project, we develop computational techniques based on machine learning to facilitate the observation of brain changes and diagnose brain diseases earlier. The idea of machine learning algorithms is to use existing data to make computers learn to automatically interpret new data. In this project, brain images and long term follow-up information of the large subject pool form the input to the machine learning algorithms. By utilizing this example data, the algorithms learn to predict disease progression based on brain images. Methods to be developed in this project can be utilized, for example, for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. The project will team up with top level medical experts to try to find most promising utilization targets for the new methods.

Genommed Doctoral Programme . The GenomMed programme will train international experts in translational genomics aiming to solve health care -related questions in the fields of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and neurosciences to create solutions and innovations to support development of novel treatments and enhance treatment of patients in the European and global environment.

Machine learning in brain imaging (PI J. Tohka, active 2015 - 2016, funded by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement nº 600371, el Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (COFUND2013-40258) and Banco Santander.)

This project develops computational methods for machine learning based analysis of large brain image collections. Machine learning refers to the construction and study of methods that can learn models of example data. These models can then be used to make future predictions, for example, predict an early diagnosis for a patient. With these newly developed methods we hope to aid neuroscientists to study on how brain diseases alter the brain structure and function and this way contribute to the better and earlier diagnosis of brain diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and schizophrenia.

New neuroinformatics methods for automatic analysis of brain images (active 2009 - 2014, funded by Academy of Finland, PI J Tohka)

This project aims at developing automatic methods for the analysis of brain images. This research belongs to the general field of neuroinformatics. Neuroinformatics combines neuroscience and informatics research to develop and apply advanced tools and approaches essential for a major advancement in understanding the structure and function of the brain. The interpretation of world-wide research data would not be possible without new and powerful computational data analysis approaches. The brain research is essential for the treatment of brain disorders and in future also for the prevention of them. The primary goal of neuroinformatics and related brain research is to investigate how a healthy brain functions. Then, by using this knowledge, it will be possible to study disease processes for instance by means of computer simulations.

Collaborations:

Laboratory of Neuroimaging, University of Southern California, USA

McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, Monteral Neurological Institute, Canada

Department of Signal Processing, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain

Reina Sofia Centre for Alzheimer's Research, Madrid, Spain

Oulu Functional Neuroimaging, University of Oulu, Finland

Department of Signal Processing, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

Brain and Mind Laboratory, Department of Biological Engineering and Computational Science, Aalto University, Finland

Strucural Brain Mapping Group, University of Jena, Germany

ITACA institute, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia , Valencia, Spain

Turku PET Centre, Turku, Finland