Application of neuroanatomical ontologies for neuroimaging data annotation

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The annotation of functional neuroimaging results for data sharing and re-use is particularly challenging, due to the diversity of terminologies of neuroanatomical structures and cortical parcellation schemes. To address this challenge, we extended the Foundational Model of Anatomy Ontology (FMA) to include cytoarchitectural, Brodmann area labels, and a morphological cortical labeling scheme (e.g., the part of Brodmann area 6 in the left precentral gyrus). This representation was also used to augment the neuroanatomical axis of RadLex, the ontology for clinical imaging. The resulting neuroanatomical ontology contains explicit relationships indicating which brain regions are "part of" which other regions, across cytoarchitectural and morphological labeling schemas. We annotated a large functional neuroimaging dataset with terms from the ontology and applied a reasoning engine to analyze this dataset in conjunction with the ontology, and achieved successful inferences from the most specific level (e.g., how many subjects showed activation in a subpart of the middle frontal gyrus) to more general (how many activations were found in areas connected via a known white matter tract?). In summary, we have produced a neuroanatomical ontology that harmonizes several different terminologies of neuroanatomical structures and cortical parcellation schemes. This neuroanatomical ontology is publicly available as a view of FMA at the Bioportal website1. The ontological encoding of anatomic knowledge can be exploited by computer reasoning engines to make inferences about neuroanatomical relationships described in imaging datasets using different terminologies. This approach could ultimately enable knowledge discovery from large, distributed fMRI studies or medical record mining. © 2010 Turner, Mejino, Brinkley, Detwiler, Lee, Martone and Rubin.

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Turner, J. A., Mejino, J. L. V., Brinkley, J. F., Detwiler, L. T., Lee, H. J., Martone, M. E., & Rubin, D. L. (2010). Application of neuroanatomical ontologies for neuroimaging data annotation. Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, 4(JUN).

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