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A detailed image of the nerve fibers' pattern in the brain  (Source: Van Wedeen / Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Mass. General Hospital)
As it turns out, the brain has a simpler pattern of nerve fibers than previously thought

Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital researchers have snapped new images of the brain and found that it has a  much simpler structure than previously thought.

Van Wedeen, study leader and neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, along with a team of researchers, have scanned the human brain as well as the brains of other mammals and found that they all have strikingly similar patterns of nerve fibers that are organized in a simple fashion.

Up until now, the exact organization of the nerve fibers in the human brain has been unclear. It's challenging to scan fiber connectivity in the human cortex for images because humans can't sit in an MRI scanner longer than about 45 minutes. With such a short amount of time to scan, Wedeen said the nerve fibers tend to look like chaotic strands of spaghetti with no real order or pattern.

But now, the researchers have found a very different image of the human brain as well as the brains of primates. Using diffusion spectrum magnetic resonance imaging, which is capable of reaching 10 times the resolution of traditional MRI machines, the team was able to scan the brains of living humans in a short amount of time. The researchers also scanned the brains of four dead primates, including rhesus monkeys, marmosets, galagos, and owl monkeys.

After completing the scans and looking at the images, the 40 billion nerve cells that make about 1,000 connections each in the brain all seemed to make sense.

"What emerged was astonishing," said Wedeen. "What emerged was that the set of fibers that crossed a given fiber, invariably -- and that's a really strong invariably -- look like mutually parallel fibers all coming in like the teeth of a comb and crossing it in one direction.

"Looking across multiple species, it emerged that the pattern was substantially similar. When you went from primates with small brains to primates with big brains...the rules were the same, but they were being applied more diversely and with more layers in the larger, more complex brains."

The brains observed all had similar vertical and horizontal cross-stitch-like patterns that resemble a quilt. According to Wedeen, this sort of simple pattern makes sense because the brain wouldn't have been able to evolve or grow if the wiring were chaotic. He compared it to a person wiring their basement at random, which would result in a house fire.

"If you try to picture what would happen if you tried to turn one spaghetti brain into a different spaghetti brain, you realize you would need an impossibly intelligent designer standing above the brain and rewiring it," said Wedeen.

Wedeen hopes this research will lead to a better understanding of the brain in general, and eventually, a better understanding of problems like Alzheimer's disease.

Source: MSNBC

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Today of all days...
By Hyperion1400 on 4/1/2012 7:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Ya just had to release this TODAY didn't you?

After Toonami last night on Adultswim I don't know what to believe...

RE: Today of all days...
By kensiko on 4/1/2012 7:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
The source indicates it was updated on 2012-03-29, so I'm not sure if it is true or not after all.

RE: Today of all days...
By kensiko on 4/2/2012 11:07:29 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Today of all days...
By JonnyBlaze on 4/1/2012 8:11:50 PM , Rating: 2
It's real. Here is another image of it.

RE: Today of all days...
By Mitch101 on 4/1/2012 9:43:18 PM , Rating: 5
This tells you what each of the colors is for

Brain Drain
By Rictor on 4/2/2012 3:13:11 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully, this will lead to some major breakthroughs, eventually. I've been having problems with my short term memory for a couple of years now. I do something, and then 15 minutes later I can't remember if I did it or not. I start doing 2 or 3 different things, then, by the time I start on the 3rd thing, I can't remember what I wanted to do, half the time.

I hope eventually they get to the point where they can help you forget certain events that you intentionally want to forget, and maybe, they can figure out how things work with people that have photographic memories, so that maybe people who want that could take a pill or have a surgery and develop it.

If you're scared of heights maybe there's a certain gene or a certain region of the brain that is responsible for that, that they could turn off at will.

Maybe for people with lower IQs, or anyone, for that matter, they could figure out ways to make people smarter, more easily, and more quickly.

RE: Brain Drain
By FaceMaster on 4/2/2012 3:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
I was looking for the same comment again somewhere else on the page but alas... no. :(

RE: Brain Drain
By geddarkstorm on 4/2/2012 4:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
This breakthrough is simply discovering the brain is knitted together like a quilt or fibers in a cloth, instead of chaotically mangled together like PC cable wiring in a dorm room.

Really, it just shows the higher organization of the brain fibers are logically routed, instead of chaotically mingled. It makes the building of the brain even more complex (since parallel axons are somehow coordinating with eachother), not less, but also makes the brain's organization easier to "read".

The main breakthroughs this could bring are just the ability to better identify what areas of the brain are being affected when there's damage; and maybe, hopefully, down the road help us figure out how to regenerate it.

RE: Brain Drain
By Ammohunt on 4/2/2012 10:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
I do something, and then 15 minutes later I can't remember if I did it or not.

its called getting older; i have the same problem started after say mid 30ies or maybes its CJD i can't remember..

By MrBlastman on 4/2/2012 12:01:15 PM , Rating: 2
This helps explain why demyelination and diseases via this mechanism are so catastrophic to the nervous system.

RE: Fascinating!
By FaceMaster on 4/2/2012 3:28:31 PM , Rating: 5
It also explains most of the comments on youtube.

Meanwhile the CS people...
By Trisped on 4/2/2012 9:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
Wedeen hopes this research will lead to a better understanding of the brain in general, and eventually, a better understanding of problems like Alzheimer's disease.
Meanwhile the computer scientists of the world will start building new neural networks which more closely resemble the brain. Then the computer engineers will make a chip which has the same layout as the human brain, someone will plug in an AI, and the war will be on!

By ebdesales on 4/3/2012 11:17:17 AM , Rating: 2
So it seems much of the brain is polarized. The teeth of the comb are crossed perpendicular to the teeth of another comb. Just an interesting parallel with light, I wonder if there's anything to it, such as reducing chatter by filtering out transverse signals. Would be interesting to see how this ties into the recent breakthroughs with optogenetics and astrocytes.

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