Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Commentary
  • Published:

Putting big data to good use in neuroscience


Big data has transformed fields such as physics and genomics. Neuroscience is set to collect its own big data sets, but to exploit its full potential, there need to be ways to standardize, integrate and synthesize diverse types of data from different levels of analysis and across species. This will require a cultural shift in sharing data across labs, as well as to a central role for theorists in neuroscience research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: The spatiotemporal domain of neuroscience and of the main methods available for the study of the nervous system in 2014.


  1. Bock, D.D. et al. Nature 471, 177–182 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Shepherd, G.M. Neurobiology. 8 (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Dankert, H., Wang, L., Hoopfer, E.D., Anderson, D.J. & Perona, P. Nat. Methods 6, 297–303 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Falkner, A.L., Dollar, P., Perona, P., Anderson, D.J. & Lin, D. J. Neurosci. 34, 5971–5984 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Wu, T. et al. IEEE Trans. Syst. Man Cybern. B Cybern. 42, 1027–1038 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. National Institutes of Health. BRAIN 2025: a scientific vision. (2014).

  7. Vogelstein, J.T., Park, Y. & Ohyama, T. Science 344, 386–392 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Mountain, M. Phys. Today 67, 8–10 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Churchland, P.S. & Sejnowski, T.J. Science 242, 741–745 (1988).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Terrence J Sejnowski.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sejnowski, T., Churchland, P. & Movshon, J. Putting big data to good use in neuroscience. Nat Neurosci 17, 1440–1441 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing