Public Release: 

Carnegie Mellon statistics student honored for technique to aid in brain imaging

Carnegie Mellon University

PITTSBURGH--Kary Myers, a Ph.D. student in statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, has won a Student Paper Competition Award from the Statistical Computing and Statistics Graphics sections of the American Statistical Association for her paper, "The Billion Byte Brain: Combining Physiological Data and Gigabytes of Images to Improve Maps of Brain Activity." The paper will be published as part of the proceedings of the Joint Statistical Meetings in August.

Myers' paper describes a method she is developing for removing some sources of "noise" that interferes with optical imaging, a method for mapping brain activity in which the surface of the cerebral cortex is videotaped over time. When researchers attempt to map brain activity that results from a specific stimulus, unrelated physiological processes such as changes in blood pressure can create noise that obscures the brain image. Myers is exploring a way to mitigate this problem by using physiological measurements recorded during the imaging experiments. By noting the changes in the brain which are correlated with changes in blood pressure, for example, Myers can remove the noise from the images, giving scientists a clearer picture of the effect of the stimulus.

"Improving the brain images could lead to more efficient experimental procedures and pave the way for more challenging experiments," said Myers, who earned her bachelor's degree in statistics from Carnegie Mellon. She is from Billings, Montana.

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Carnegie Mellon is on the cutting edge of brain imaging, which encompasses several innovative techniques for studying cognitive function and the physiological processes that underlie thought. The Department of Statistics, which is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is one of several departments at Carnegie Mellon involved in this research.

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