Teaching with Big Data: Report from the 2016 Society for Neuroscience Teaching Workshop

J Undergrad Neurosci Educ. 2017 Nov 15;16(1):A68-A76. eCollection 2017 Fall.


As part of a series of workshops on teaching neuroscience at the Society for Neuroscience annual meetings, William Grisham and Richard Olivo organized the 2016 workshop on "Teaching Neuroscience with Big Data." This article presents a summary of that workshop. Speakers provided overviews of open datasets that could be used in teaching undergraduate courses. These included resources that already appear in educational settings, including the Allen Brain Atlas (presented by Joshua Brumberg and Terri Gilbert), and the Mouse Brain Library and GeneNetwork (presented by Robert Williams). Other resources, such as NeuroData (presented by William R. Gray Roncal), and OpenFMRI, NeuroVault, and Neurosynth (presented by Russell Poldrack) have not been broadly utilized by the neuroscience education community but offer obvious potential. Finally, William Grisham discussed the iNeuro Project, an NSF-sponsored effort to develop the necessary curriculum for preparing students to handle Big Data. Linda Lanyon further elaborated on the current state and challenges in educating students to deal with Big Data and described some training resources provided by the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility. Neuroinformatics is a subfield of neuroscience that deals with data utilizing analytical tools and computational models. The feasibility of offering neuroinformatics programs at primarily undergraduate institutions was also discussed.

Keywords: Allen Brain Atlas; Big Data; GeneNetwork NeuroData; INCF; Mouse Brain Library; NeuroVault; Neurosynth; OpenfMRI; educational resources; iNeuro; neuroinformatics.