Domenici Research Center for Mental Illness

domenici centerThe Domenici Research Center for Mental Illness is a neuroscience research facility within the Brain Sciences Center, located at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis. Founded in 2001, the Domenici Research Center was made possible through the support of The MIND Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

At the heart of the Domenici Research Center is a rare, state-of-the-art magnetoencephalography (MEG) neuroimaging instrument. The Center is dedicated to using a combination of non-invasive imaging technologies, such as its MEG system, along with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to advance the understanding of the brain in both health and disease.


Single-Unit Recording Lab

single unit lab

The Brain Sciences Center's Single Unit Laboratory houses state-of-the-art hardware and software used in studies of electrical activity of the brain and basic research on cognitive function.

Bak Time and Amplitude Neural Discrimantors look at the analog signal and can produce different outputs for individual cells that are based on pre-set time/amplitude thresholds.

Alpha-Omega Discriminators display the outputs from seven different channels.  Each channel can perform 'template matching' for each of three different cells.  A template consists of six timepoints with adjustable 'time windows' that enable the researcher to establish the criteria for the identification of signal emanating from individual neurons.

A Thomas Recording Eckhorn Microelectrode manipulator can operate 32 electrodes at once.  The Eckhorn has pre-amps which send the signals from the electrodes to discriminating amps.  The 32 'stepper' motors in the Eckhorn are used to individually manipulate the electrodes, which we can manufacture in our lab.

Plexon™ software (familiarly known as the 'Harvey Box') is similar to the Alpha-Omega in that it amplifies and discriminates, with the added capability of working with recorded signals 'offline'.

An ISCAN™ video-based monitoring system keeps track of eye-position to ensure that eye movements do not interfere with the recording of neuronal signals.


Linux clusterphoto of cluster

Since 2001 researchers at the BSC have engaged in large-scale scientific computation using high-performance cluster computers.  In 2001 the BSC installed one of the first generation of Linux cluster computers built by IBM.  This computer had 64 Pentium III processors, 128GB total memory and 300GB of central disk storage.  It had an estimated performance of 100 GFLOP/s.  In addition to dramatically increasing the amount of data BSC researchers could store and analyze, this computer was used to simulate very large neuronal networks with up to one million neurons and one billion synaptic connections.

In 2011 a new Linux cluster, built by local computer company Nor-Tech, was installed.  The new cluster has 352 cores in 88 low-power Xeon L5520 quad-core processors, over 1TB total memory and 26TB of central disk storage.  This cluster has an estimated performance of 1.6 TFLOP/s while drawing power comparable to the original IBM cluster.  The new cluster gives the researchers at the Brain Sciences Center the storage and computational resources to carry out advanced theoretical simulations and analyses of very large brain imaging data sets.


Studio of the Mind


The Studio of the Mind is a sound production facility in the Brain Sciences Center where classic analog synthesizers meet modern digital technology.  The studio is designed to be a multi-purpose facility, suitable for converting data to sound (sonification), creating audio stimuli, producing graphics, analyzing data and developing online materials.

     Two Moog System 55 modular synthesizers built in 1975 help us to produce audio stimuli for use in MEG experiments.  Along with our state-of-the-art digital synthesizer modules, the Moogs are computer-controlled through a musical instrument digital interface (MIDI).  Digital Performer© sequencing/recording software provides a superb graphical user interface for the creation, editing and playback of multi-track digital audio and MIDI files.



Updated April 20, 2016