Research Highlight

New tool to decode brain images of Indians

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.45 Published online 16 March 2020

The average Indian has an oval-shaped brain, the template shows.


The structure of the brain varies across different population groups. A tool specific to a certain population can decode these structures by analysing brain scans. There is no such tool specifically for Indians, whose brain structures differ from those of other Asians and Europeans. 

Researchers from the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) in Gurgaon, Haryana, have now developed a brain template named ‘BRAHMA’ using the brain scans of healthy Indians1. The tool can analyse brain images of different Indian population groups.

The researchers say the tool could potentially be used for planning a surgery or aid medical procedures after the surgery.

Led by Pravat Kumar Mandal, the NBRC team created the brain template with functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 113 healthy individuals from various Indian states. These people were exposed to different strings of alphabets, instructed to remember them and respond by pressing a button.

They were also asked to tap their index and middle fingers along with thumbs to register their response to specific stimuli on a screen during the scan.

The template shows that the average Indian has an oval-shaped brain, compared with the rounder brain of the average Chinese person.

The template provides a clear view of the brain structures, including the demarcation between the various brain tissues. It provides details of brain regions such as the basal ganglia and clusters of neurons beneath the outer layer of the brain.

The template also reveals a clear picture of the grey and white matter, with accurate details of deep brain structures, says Mandal. The next such template, he says, will include brain scans of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.


1. Pai, P. P. et al. BRAHMA: Population specific T1, T2, and FLAIR weighted brain templates and their Impact in structural and functional imaging studies. Magn. Reson. Imaging. (2020) Doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2019.12.009