Dinov I, Lozev K, Petrosyan P, Liu Z, Eggert P, Pierce J, Zamanyan A, Chakrapani S, Van Horn J, Parker DS, Magsipoc R, Leung K, Gutman B, Woods R, Toga A.
Modern computational neuroscience employs diverse software tools and multidisciplinary expertise to analyze heterogeneous brain data. The classical problems of gathering meaningful data, fitting specific models, and discovering appropriate analysis and visualization tools give way to a new class of computational challenges–management of large and incongruous data, integration and interoperability of computational resources, and data provenance. We designed, implemented and validated a new paradigm for addressing these challenges in the neuroimaging field. Our solution is based on the LONI Pipeline environment, a graphical workflow environment for constructing and executing complex data processing protocols. We developed study-design, database and visual language programming functionalities within the LONI Pipeline that enable the construction of complete, elaborate and robust graphical workflows for analyzing neuroimaging and other data. These workflows facilitate open sharing and communication of data and metadata, concrete processing protocols, result validation, and study replication among different investigators and research groups. The LONI Pipeline features include distributed grid-enabled infrastructure, virtualized execution environment, efficient integration, data provenance, validation and distribution of new computational tools, automated data format conversion, and an intuitive graphical user interface. We demonstrate the new LONI Pipeline features using large scale neuroimaging studies based on data from the International Consortium for Brain Mapping and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. User guides, forums, instructions and downloads of the LONI Pipeline environment are available at http://pipeline.loni.ucla.edu.