Federated Analysis of Neuroimaging Data: A Review of the Field

Neuroinformatics. 2022 Apr;20(2):377-390. doi: 10.1007/s12021-021-09550-7. Epub 2021 Nov 22.


The field of neuroimaging has embraced sharing data to collaboratively advance our understanding of the brain. However, data sharing, especially across sites with large amounts of protected health information (PHI), can be cumbersome and time intensive. Recently, there has been a greater push towards collaborative frameworks that enable large-scale federated analysis of neuroimaging data without the data having to leave its original location. However, there still remains a need for a standardized federated approach that not only allows for data sharing adhering to the FAIR (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, Reusability) data principles, but also streamlines analyses and communication while maintaining subject privacy. In this paper, we review a non-exhaustive list of neuroimaging analytic tools and frameworks currently in use. We then provide an update on our federated neuroimaging analysis software system, the Collaborative Informatics and Neuroimaging Suite Toolkit for Anonymous Computation (COINSTAC). In the end, we share insights on future research directions for federated analysis of neuroimaging data.

Keywords: COINSTAC; Federated learning; Neuroimaging.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Information Dissemination* / methods
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Software