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Overview of the GIN


The GIN is a multidisciplinary research unit gathering scientists with initial training in various domains, namely mathematics and instrumentation for medical imaging (B Mazoyer), nuclear medicine and neurosciences (N Tzourio-Mazoyer), signal processing (F Crivello, M Joliot), psychiatry (E Mellet) and cognitive neurosciences (G Jobard, L Petit, L Zago).

The project is based on a collective expertise acquired over 20 years of work in the domain of cognitive neuroimaging, that this group helped to found and to develop at the international level.
The GIN possesses know-how for all functional imaging techniques (PET, MRI, EEG, MEG), from the design of experiments to data analysis.

Over 500 MRI studies have been carried out on 3T MR imagers by the researchers of the GIN. The GIN has also pioneered the establishment, management and analysis of very large multimodal databases combining imaging, psychometric and genetic data. Its expertise in this domain, gained through collaborations with neuro-epidemiologists over more than 15 years, is unique in France.

The GIN is a core member of the TRAIL Laboratory of Excellence (LabEx), and is an associated team of the BRAIN LabEx as well.

The GIN is also and involved in the i-SHARE cohort of excellence.


The current scientific project of the GIN is to identify the determinants of the establishment of the cerebral networks underlying cognitive functions [1], which allow us to understand and to interact with the world.

Our studies focus on three key phenomena of the organisation of the human brain in terms of these functions:

  • 1-dominance or specialisation of a particular hemisphere, also named hemispheric specialisation (HS) for language and visuo-spatial functions, and the anatomical basis of this specialisation;
  • 2- functional architecture of the conscious resting state (CRS), a potential baseline state of the brain;
  • 3- neuroanatomical and cognitive ageing and its risk factors.

The experimental approach common to these key issues is based on the construction and/or analysis of large multimodal databases containing psychometric, neuroanatomical (anatomical MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)) and neurofunctional (functional MRI: fMRI) data.

Four databases of this type have been or are in the process of being acquired:

* GIN1.5 database consists of such data for 274 healthy volunteers acquired with the 1.5 Tesla MRI machine of Caen University Hospital.

* The BIL&GIN database contains data for 300 healthy volunteers, aged between 18 and 50 years, with equal numbers of men and women and of right- and left-handed subjects. Genetic, psychometric, neuroanatomical, and neurofunctional data were acquired on a 3T magnet.

* The databases for the EVA (Étude du Vieillissement Artériel; Arterial Ageing Study) and 3C (Three-City Study) studies are based on epidemiological surveys focusing on anatomical, vascular and cognitive ageing in subjects over the age of 65 years. These two databases currently contain more than 6,000 anatomical MRI acquisitions, with socio-demographic, psychometric and genome wide analysis data.



Since its foundation, the research framework of the GIN concerns theoretical and experimental investigations of the relationships between brain and mind.
Studies of the neural bases of cognitive function in healthy humans really began in the middle of the 1980’s, with the development of a method for rapid mapping of blood flow in the brain using PET and radioactive water. This resulted in new possibilities for identifying the neural networks operating during cognitive activities, constituting a real epistemological breakthrough with the usual models and methods of psychology and neuropsychology.

The development of functional MRI in the middle of the 1990s made it possible to push back the limits of PET and to further extend the potential of this type of approach. This led to an explosion in the number of publications and the creation of new research teams working in the domain of cognitive neuroimaging.

During the first 23 years of its existence, the GIN has made a number of original and important contributions to this domain, in particular as concerns: neural networks for language, mental imagery, visuo-spatial attention, numerical and logical activities and, more recently, the conscious resting state.

The GIN has also pioneering population brain imaging, a new paradigm aiming at the identification of factors explaining brain phenotype-genotype relationships based on the collection of multiple multimodal imaging, psychometric and genetic data in large groups of individuals.



Since 1990, the GIN has produced over 200 peer-reviewed articles that have so far received over 12,000 citations, and giving an H-factor at 57.

GIN articles have been published in the highest impact journals of the domain including Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, NeuroImage, Human Brain Mapping, Circulation, Annals of Neurology, Neurology, Stroke, Cerebral Cortex, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, PNAS, Neuroinformatics, British Medical Journal, American Journal of Psychiatry.

Furthermore, some of the GIN methodological developments for the automated analysis of neuroimages have been widely adopted by the international community, such as for example its Automated Anatomical Labeling software that has been included in the SPM package (cited over 2,000 times). Actually, the GIN staff has designed and developed 9 software tools:

  • AAL
  • QIR
  • GINdb

on which intellectual property is now detained by CNRS, CEA and University with one patent pending for FUNBATHS.



Because they have pioneered the field of cognitive imaging in France, it has been the responsibility of GIN researchers from the beginning of its existence to train young scientists to the domain so it could expand in the country.
As of December 2013, the GIN has trained 40 PhD students a majority of whom has been recruited in universities or research bodies (CNRS, CEA, INSERM) in the domain of brain mapping.

The scientists and research officers of the GIN have also made a considerable contribution to teaching and young researchers and other scientific staff in this new domain.
They currently teach a 40h “Cognitive neuroimaging” module within the International Master on Bioimaging of Bordeaux University and have organized 3 summer schools over the past years.

Teaching to general audience is also a tradition for this group, with numerous public talks, debate participations in various media, lectures in schools, and exhibits in the Fête de la Science.

[1including, in particular, language, visuo-spatial functions and free thought