Interacting with the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) via the LONI Pipeline workflow environment
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Under the umbrella of the National Database for Clinical Trials (NDCT) related to mental illnesses, the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) seeks to gather, curate, and make openly available neuroimaging data from NIH-funded studies of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). NDAR has recently made its database accessible through the LONI Pipeline workflow design and execution environment to enable large-scale analyses of cortical architecture and function via local, cluster, or “cloud”-based computing resources. This presents a unique opportunity to overcome many of the customary limitations to fostering biomedical neuroimaging as a science of discovery. Providing open access to primary neuroimaging data, workflow methods, and high-performance computing will increase uniformity in data collection protocols, encourage greater reliability of published data, results replication, and broaden the range of researchers now able to perform larger studies than ever before. To illustrate the use of NDAR and LONI Pipeline for performing several commonly performed neuroimaging processing steps and analyses, this paper presents example workflows useful for ASD neuroimaging researchers seeking to begin using this valuable combination of online data and computational resources. We discuss the utility of such database and workflow processing interactivity as a motivation for the sharing of additional primary data in ASD research and elsewhere.