in the largest brain scanning study of all time, two hundred researchers compiled 124 thousand brain scans into a single database. brain size, growth & composition, from birth to death, is comprehensively documented  

original article: Bethlehem et al., 2022 (Nature), reported in: The New Scientist by Carissa Wong on 6th April 2022

this story was in episode 28 #brain #big #data #MRI #age #growth #lifespan

the error bar says

the leading science magazines, New Scientist, Scientific American & the Daily Mail all reported on the largest-ever study to create a reference database of human brain growth across the whole lifespan. a remarkably huge 124 thousand brain scans were combined into lovely curvy lines showing how the brain changes size & composition over time.

continuing a theme, 2022 seems to be the year of big data at the error bar. we had the 1.8 million adults doing the 'implicit association test' (badly); 50 thousand brains in a study suggesting (unjustifiably) that most other scanning studies were too small; now a majestic 124 thousand more.

the scientific paper, in Nature magazine, was written by 201 scientists. my mind boggles at the effort, coordination & computing power it took to assemble & manipulate this dataset.

is this the biggest, beautifulest data of them all?


unlike the two previous 'big data' studies where the error bar had quibbles & concerns, here i take off my hat. this is big, beautiful, simple science. no strong claims seem to be made. rather, the data are just put out there for all to see.

scientific journals & societies often have requirements that new papers must be driven by a clear hypothesis, must test a theory experimentally, or make some theoretical advance. such journals may explicitly refuse to publish 'merely observational' studies. studies that just ask what things are like & how they change. would those lowly, technical journals refuse to publish something like this paper? a merely observational data-gathering exercise, but on a massive, magnificent scale.


behold the big data


The New Scientist: fact - scientific story reported well