A quest to analyze the unique features of individual human brains evolved into the so-called Midnight Scan Club, a group of scientists who had big ideas but almost no funding and little time to research the trillions of neural connections that activate the body’s most powerful organ.
The research group started in 2013 by two neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis who aimed to collect a massive amount of data on individual brains. The study’s subjects were the scientists themselves and eight others, all junior faculty or graduate students.
For this study, the researchers used brain-imaging techniques to evaluate brain networks that control speech and motor function, among other activities. The researchers examined individuals while resting and performing cognitive tasks such as reading. The goal was to better understand the inner-workings of individual people’s brains by compiling hours and hours of data collected on 10 adults — a group of study subjects that included two of the researchers themselves.
Their work led to 10 high-fidelity, individual-specific connectomes — detailed maps of neural brain connections that reveal spatial and organizational variability in brain networks, and that may one day be helpful in determining personalized treatments for brain-related disorders.
Using this approach, we might one day be able to obtain brain-function maps of patients and individualize neuropsychiatric and medical treatments based on specific features of their brain networks. We’d like to be able to provide personalized medicine using neuroimaging to treat people with seizures, migraines and depression.