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 IU Trident Indiana University

Linear Fascicle Evaluation (LiFE): optimization of brain software for big data processing

Project Leads: Dr. Franco Pestilli (Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA) Associated Scientist: Dr. Cesar Caiafa (Instituto Argentino de Radioastronom [IAR] - CONICET, CCT, La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Research made possible by:  High Performance Systems (HPS), Scientific Applications and Performance Tuning (SciAPT), Karst and Big Red II supercomputers

Major highways of the brains validated using LiFE.
Figure 1. Major highways of the brains validated using LiFE. Top. Anatomical path of two major human white matter fascicles (Superior lateral fasciculus, purple and Arcuate fasciculus, gold). Bottom. Cortical projection zones of the Superior Lateral Fasciculus (color indicates connection density, yellow=maximum density).

Linear Fascicle Evaluation (LiFE) technology provides a method for precision mapping of the network of brain connections in living humans. This project aims to provide new biomarkers to explore a variety of diseases that affect brain function during development, aging, attentional allocation and vision as well as advancing methods for personalized diagnostics for large populations of individuals.

LiFE has been successfully used to identify a major lost human white matter pathway (Yeatman, Wiener, Pestilli et al., PNAS 2014; Takemura, et al., and Pestilli Cerebral Cortex 2015), white matter fascicles dedicated to face- and place-processing (Gomez, Pestilli et al., Neuron 2014), and precision diagnosis of white matter damage in individual with vision deficits (Ogawa et al., JOVS 2014; Allen et al., Vision Research 2014).

LiFE uses cutting edge diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance measurements and automated fiber tracking methods to identify the network of brain connections in living human brains. LiFE was deployed on IU's Karst computing cluster in the spring of 2015 and plans are underway to install the software on Big Red II.

At IU, in collaboration with Dr. Caiafa (CONICET/Argentina), Dr. Pestilli has improved the LiFE method and the software now runs faster and is more memory efficient. A newer version of the LiFE method is currently being tested on the Karst high-throughput computing cluster. The software has been optimized to run 7 times faster. After completion of the tuning project LiFE will be made available to investigators across the Indiana University-Blooming and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis campuses using shared file systems. These efforts will yield a new generation of metrics to study the complex network of brain connections with the goal to improve fundamentally current algorithms that can map the human connectome.


The mission of the Scientific Applications and Performance Tuning (SciAPT) group is to deliver and support software tools that promote effective and efficient use of IU's advanced cyberinfrastructure which, in turn, improves research and enables discoveries.

The High Performance Systems (HPS) group implements, operates, and supports some of the fastest supercomputers in the world. IU's Big Red II, Karst, and the large memory system, Mason, in order to advance Indiana University's mission in research, training, and engagement in the state. HPS also supports databases and database engines used by the IU community.

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Neurobiology and Neuroscience (950) - Neurobiology and Behavior