The BOB lab was established in 2021 as a direct result of the Boundaries Of the Brain (BOB) Research Excellence grant awarded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST).
The grant provided funding for the development of computer software that explores the wide spectrum between having distinct borders to brain regions or having mostly homogeneous areas (two theories that were previously proposed by Oskar and Cecile Vogt and their critics Percival Bailey and Gerhardt von Bonin, respectively).
Our developed Vogt-Bailey (VB) Toolbox is an open-source software which is easily accessible through GitHub. It uses rigorous mathematical principles to objectively measure such brain boundaries and the regional homogeneity throughout the cortex.
The success of the BOB grant not only enabled the creation of the VB Toolbox and the establishment of the lab but also allowed its expansion. Currently, there are eight people (academics, postdocs, and students) working in the lab, all coming from different fields of expertise and working on various aspects of the project.
Led by two principal investigators, Dr Claude Bajada from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and Dr Kenneth Scerri from the Faculty of Engineering. The team is dedicated to expanding the boundaries of our understanding of the brain and is constantly exploring new ways to apply our research.
The MCST grant served as a catalyst for further recognition, with the University of Malta funding the "Beyond BOB" (or BE-BOB) project. This allows the lab to continue its research and explore new applications of its software. A key area of focus for BE-BOB is determining the level of confidence that can be placed in VB-index values.
To understand this concept, consider a situation where it is predicted that 400 people will contract COVID in the next month. What does this number indicate? Will exactly 400 individuals be infected? Is the number within a certain range, for example 100 to 1000? Or can we pinpoint a smaller interval, such as 300 to 500? The ultimate goal of BE-BOB is to quantify this level of certainty.
The lab has also managed to successfully secure a second Research Excellence Fund by the MCST which uses the technology developed from the BOB grant to explore and Measure the Architecture of Consciousness (MARC).
We have made significant progress since the grant was awarded, and we are looking forward to continuing our work in the field. We are always looking for new collaborators and opportunities to expand our research and contribute to the advancement of our field. We are confident that the BOB lab will continue to make important contributions to the field of neuroscience and brain imaging.