National Computational Infrastructure

NCI

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Picking your brain

BrainThe brain is the most complex part of the human body. It’s the chair of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, motivator of body movement, and controller of behaviour. 

Using the latest computing technology, researchers at ANU have been able to study this intricate organ. The research will help to identify the causes of neurological disorders like dementia and depression.

The National Computational Infrastructure’s supercomputer has processed thousands of brain scans and helped produce 3D computational models that allow Dr Nicolas Cherbuin, Director of the Neuroimaging and Brain Lab at ANU and ARC Future Fellow, to study the internal structure of our most complex organ.

“Our research is about investigating the factors that influence brain health over time and how these factors may lead to a decrease in thinking and function which might ultimately lead to dementia,” says Cherbuin.

“Often people think of the brain as a ball of jelly but it is made up of different structures that you can recognise and the supercomputer helps us measure them and study how their size and shape are influenced by factors such as diet, exercise, and blood pressure.

“We work with more than 2000 brain scans and normal computers would take about 10 years to process the data and this wouldn’t be feasible.  

“Using the NCI supercomputer reduced the processing time to a few months and makes it possible to conduct more sophisticated research.”

The information processed by NCI has also helped build the evidence base necessary to develop tools to identify those at higher risk of dementia such as the ANU Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Index.

This video and story was first published in the latest edition of ANU Reporter

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