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NIF Vocabularies

NIF has developed a comprehensive vocabulary for annotating and searching neuroscience resources. The vocabularies are available for download as an OWL file and also through the NCBO BioPortal.

Please see our Wiki page for help in understanding the structure of the NIF ontologies and loading them into Protege.

A critical component of the Neuroscience Information Framework (NIF) project is a consistent, flexible terminology that can be used to describe and retrieve neuroscience-relevant resources. With the advent of the World Wide Web—an ever-evolving, easy-to-access, shared information systems--the need for a shared semantic framework for neuroscience has become critically important, all the more so if individual researchers and automated search agents are to access and utilize the most up-to-date information. To address this need, NIF has created NeuroLex (http://neurolex.org/wiki), a comprehensive lexicon of common neuroscience terminology woven into an ontologically consistent, unified representation of the biomedical domains typically used to describe neuroscience data.

NeuroLex is built from our core OWL ontology, NIFSTD, in a modular fashion, with separate modules covering major domains of neuroscience: anatomy, cell, subcellular, molecule, function and dysfunction. NeuroLex also includes detailed concepts for describing experimental techniques and instruments typically employed to carry out neuroscientific studies, as well as concepts for describing digital resources being created throughout the neuroscience community.

Efforts that have used NIFSTD include:

Browse some of the NIF hierarchies on the NeuroLex Wiki:

Following best practices established by the Open Biological Ontology (OBO) community, NeuroLex reuses existing community ontologies that cover the required biomedical domains, building the more specific concepts required to annotate NIF resources as necessary. Each concept is accompanied by a human readable definition to facilitate the application of NeuroLex to data. Each distinct domain module is represented using the Web Ontology Language (OWL) (Bug et al Neuroinformatics 2008 Sep; 6(3):175-94). NIF is actively looking to expand the content of the NeuroLex and will be working with neuroscientists and others who have created terminology resources for neuroscience to incorporate them into the NIF. We are developing community tools for comment and extension, such as the NeuroLex Wiki. If you have a terminology that covers a domain not currently represented in NIF, please consider working with the NIF to make your vocabulary available. For questions about NeuroLex or making your vocabulary available to NIF, please contact Maryann Martone. Visit our Wiki for the latest developments.


NIF Statistics

NIF Version: 6.2

Ontology Version: 2.9

Level 2.5/3.0 Resources: 239

Registry Entries: 12,598

Total Records: 829,679,866

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