Many implications seen for biomedical research
The human brain is estimated to contain 100 billion neurons (the number 1 followed by eleven zeros). Because a typical neuron forms ~1,000 synaptic connections to other neurons, the total number of synapses in the brain is estimated to be 100 trillion (the number 1 followed by 14 zeros). The thin projections from neurons that form connections with each other (axons and dendrites) can be thought of as the biological "wiring" of the brain.
Neuroscientists already know that brain neurons can and do form specific rather than random connections with each other to generate the observed wiring diagram of the brain. However, the precise patterns of such non-random connections, how the patterns are formed, and how these patterns underlie the brains extraordinary information processing capacity are important questions that Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory theoretical neuroscientist Dmitri Chklovskii is exploring. An article published in this weeks issue of PLoS Biology (March 1, 2005) describes Chklovskiis discovery of strongly preferred patterns of connectivity or scaffolds within the wiring diagram of the rat brain. The patterns are likely to correspond to modules that play an important role in brain function not only in rats, but also in humans.
Peter Sherwood | EurekAlert!
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