Front. Neuroinform., 23 March 2012 |

Practical management of heterogeneous neuroimaging metadata by global neuroimaging data repositories

  • Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Rapidly evolving neuroimaging techniques are producing unprecedented quantities of digital data at the same time that many research studies are evolving into global, multi-disciplinary collaborations between geographically distributed scientists. While networked computers have made it almost trivial to transmit data across long distances, collecting and analyzing this data requires extensive metadata if the data is to be maximally shared. Though it is typically straightforward to encode text and numerical values into files and send content between different locations, it is often difficult to attach context and implicit assumptions to the content. As the number of and geographic separation between data contributors grows to national and global scales, the heterogeneity of the collected metadata increases and conformance to a single standardization becomes implausible. Neuroimaging data repositories must then not only accumulate data but must also consolidate disparate metadata into an integrated view. In this article, using specific examples from our experiences, we demonstrate how standardization alone cannot achieve full integration of neuroimaging data from multiple heterogeneous sources and why a fundamental change in the architecture of neuroimaging data repositories is needed instead.

Keywords: image metadata, file format, data archive

Citation: Neu SC, Crawford KL and Toga AW (2012) Practical management of heterogeneous neuroimaging metadata by global neuroimaging data repositories. Front. Neuroinform. 6:8.doi: 10.3389/fninf.2012.00008

Received: 01 October 2011; Accepted: 08 March 2012;
Published online: 23 March 2012.

Edited by:

John Van Horn, University of California at Los Angeles, USA

Reviewed by:

Tor Wager, Columbia University, USA
David B. Keator, University of California, USA;
Angela R. Laird, The University of Texas Health Science Center, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Neu, Crawford and Toga. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Arthur W. Toga, Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles, 635 Charles E. Young Drive SW, Suite 225, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7334, USA. e-mail: