Human brain wired with a masterful design

An interesting article by Ted Thornhill appeared yesterday in the Daily Mail, detailing some new research published in the journal Science which shows that far from being a random assembly, the human brain is wired in a way superior even to supercomputers.  It would be very interesting to see how this wiring loom might adapt itself in the creation of genius, or in mystical experience.

Mystics have generally been men and women of simple education, who felt averse to, or by circumstance happened to avoid, the mundane memorisation and regurgitation of cartloads of facts, a process generating stress and pain to the brain.  I would be fascinated to see if there are any differences in this loom design between highly evolved states and the normal model, or if enforcement of rote-learning forces damage visible in some kind of crippling of this loom system.

If so, the modern, mind-numbing education system would have the same effect as would tying a heavy weight around a child’s neck at the age of three, stunting its natural growth and sapping all its energy:

For a long time it was thought that the brain was a mass of tangled wires, but researchers recently found that its fibers are actually set up like a chess board, crossing at right-angles.

What’s more, this grid structure has now been revealed in amazing detail as part of a brain imaging study by a new state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner.

Van Wedeen, of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), who led study, said: ‘Far from being just a tangle of wires, the brain’s connections turn out to be more like ribbon cables – folding 2D sheets of parallel neuronal fibers that cross paths at right angles, like the warp and weft of a fabric.

Curvature in this image of a whole human brain turns out to be folding of 2D sheets of parallel neuronal fibers that cross paths at right angles

‘This grid structure is continuous and consistent at all scales and across humans and other primate species.’  

Thomas R Insel, the director of the National Institute for Mental Health, said: ‘Getting a high-resolution wiring diagram of our brains is a landmark in human neuroanatomy.’

The Connectom MRI scanner was installed at MGH last year and can visualise the networks of criss-crossing fibers – by which different parts of the brain communicate with each other – in 10-fold higher detail than conventional scanners, according to Wedeen.

He said: ‘This one-of-a-kind instrument is bringing into sharper focus an astonishingly simple architecture that makes sense in light of how the brain grows. The wiring of the mature brain appears to mirror three primal pathways established in embryonic development.’

Revelation: The fabric-like 3D grid structure of connections in a monkey brain

As the brain gets wired up in early development, its connections form along perpendicular pathways, running horizontally, vertically and transversely. This grid structure appears to guide connectivity like lane markers on a highway, which would limit options for growing nerve fibers to change direction during development.

If they can turn in just four directions: left, right, up or down, this may enforce a more efficient, orderly way for the fibers to find their proper connections. Obtaining detailed images of these pathways in human brain has long eluded researchers, in part, because the human cortex, or outer mantle, develops many folds, nooks and crannies that obscure the structure of its connections.

Although studies using chemical tracers in neural tracts of animal brains yielded hints of a grid structure, such invasive techniques could not be used in humans.

It’s thought that with previous technology 25 per cent of the brain’s structure was revealed – the new scanner shows 75 per cent of it.

‘Before, we had just driving directions. Now, we have a map showing how all the highways and byways are interconnected,’ said Wedeen. ‘Brain wiring is not like the wiring in your basement, where it just needs to connect the right endpoints. Rather, the grid is the language of the brain and wiring and re-wiring work by modifying it.’

About iain carstairs

I have a great interest in both scientific advances and the beauty of religion, and created about 15 years ago with the aim of finding common ground between the scientist and the believer, and to encourage debate between the two sides.
This entry was posted in Biology, Brain wiring, Education, Natural Intelligence, The Brain and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Human brain wired with a masterful design

  1. Pingback: The Story So Far |

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