Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Notre Dame research reveals brain network connections

14.07.2011
Research conducted by Maria Ercsey-Ravasz and Zoltan Toroczkai of the University of Notre Dame's Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications (iCeNSA), along with the Department of Physics and a group of neuroanatomists in France, has revealed previously unknown information about the primate brain.

The researchers published an article in the journal Cerebral Cortex showing that the brain is characterized by a highly consistent, weighted network among the functional areas of the cortex, which are responsible for such functions as vision, hearing, touch, movement control and complex associations. The study revealed that such cortical networks and their properties are reproducible from individual to individual.

Ercsey-Ravasz, a postdoctoral associate, and Toroczkai, professor of physics, analyzed 70 man-years' worth of data on macaque brains collected by a large group led by Henry Kennedy in Lyon, France. The Kennedy team injected ink tracers into a portion of the brain and scanned thin brain slices to track the movement of the chemical through the nerve cells' branches, called axons, to the soma of the cells. Kennedy enlisted iCeNSA for its expertise at analyzing networks, which has also been applied to fields as diverse as the spread of disease and the social networks. Their analysis identified the consistency of connectivity among the areas of the brain.

Ercsey-Ravasz, in a study of the data that will be included in a later paper, also has demonstrated that the number of connections is greatest between areas that are closest, and the number declines in a consistent pattern as distance increases. The regularity of the patterns from animal to animal suggests that the connections are necessary, and the fewer long-distance connections likely are control switches that coordinate or modulate information exchange amongst the brain areas.

The study is part of a broader investigation of brain function and intelligence that has accelerated in recent years as researchers abandoned the once-promising analogy between computer circuitry and human intelligence, a project that stalled in the 1970s. "It turns out the brain is not just this beautiful circuitry you could just back-engineer," Toroczkai says. "It is an amazingly complex system, and this is why it is very hard to understand why it works."

The adult primate brain contains 100 billion neurons with branches that connect at more than 100 trillion points. A top-down approach called functional decomposition, identifying bundles within the brain, helps overcome the sheer data volume. The macaque brain has 83 such areas; the human brain more than 120. "What we find is a network of connections between the functional areas," Toroczkai says. "That's important because we now have more detailed information about how the brain is wired on a large-scale, functional level."

Toroczkai and Ercsey-Ravasz will continue research in the field with US and international collaborators, aimed at understanding how information received through the senses and converted to electric pulses is processed in the brain. "It looks like there is some sort of general algorithm that is being run in this brain network," he says. "The wiring is very strange. It is not something you would expect. It constitutes one of the major motivations for this study."

zoltan toroczkai | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nd.edu

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>