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!
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy