‘The surface management system’ (SuMS) database: a surface–based database to aid cortical surface reconstruction, visualization and analysis

James Dickson, Heather Drury, David C. Van Essen


Surface reconstructions of the cerebral cortex are increasingly widely used in the analysis and visualization of cortical structure, function and connectivity. From a neuroinformatics perspective, dealing with surface–related data poses a number of challenges. These include the multiplicity of configurations in which surfaces are routinely viewed (e.g. inflated maps, spheres and flat maps), plus the diversity of experimental data that can be represented on any given surface. To address these challenges, we have developed a surface management system (SuMS) that allows automated storage and retrieval of complex surface–related datasets.

SuMS provides a systematic framework for the classification, storage and retrieval of many types of surface–related data and associated volume data. Within this classification framework, it serves as a versioncontrol system capable of handling large numbers of surface and volume datasets. With built–in database management system support, SuMS provides rapid search and retrieval capabilities across all the datasets, while also incorporating multiple security levels to regulate access. SuMS is implemented in Java and can be accessed via a Web interface (WebSuMS) or using downloaded client software. Thus, SuMS is well positioned to act as a multiplatform, multi–user ‘surface request broker’ for the neuroscience community.

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