Multidimensional universe discovered inside the human brain
(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have used classical mathematics in a whole new way to look into the structure of our brains. They found that the brain is full of multi-dimensional geometric structures operating in 11 dimensions.
The results of this new study could be the next major step in understanding the structure of the human brain.
The brain model was created by a team of researchers from the Swiss Blue Brain project, which is dedicated to creating a reconstruction of the human brain based on a supercomputer.
The scientists used algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics used to describe the properties of objects and spaces regardless of how they change shape.
They found that groups of neurons connect into “cliques” and that the number of neurons in a clique will result in its size as a high-dimensional geometric object.
“We have found a world that we could never have imagined. Even in a small part of the brain, in seven dimensions, there are tens of millions of such objects.
In some networks, we even found structures with 11 dimensions,” says lead researcher, neuroscientist Henry Markram from the EPFL Institute in Switzerland.
Researchers estimate that the human brain is made up of 86 billion neurons, with many connections from each cellular network in every possible direction, forming a vast cellular network that somehow makes us able to think and be aware.
With so many connections to work with, it’s no wonder we still don’t have a complete understanding of how the brain’s neural network works.
But the team’s new mathematical framework brings us closer to one day having a digital model of the brain.
To perform the math tests, the team used a detailed model of the neocortex that the Blue Brain project team published back in 2015.
The neocortex is thought to be an evolved part of our brain and is involved in some of our higher order functions such as cognition and sensory perception.
By developing a mathematical framework and testing it with some virtual stimuli, the team also confirmed their findings in rodent brain tissue.
According to the researchers, algebraic topology provides mathematical tools for recognizing the details of a neural network, both close-up at the level of individual neurons, and on a larger scale of the structure of the brain as a whole.
By connecting these two levels, the researchers were able to discern multidimensional geometric structures in the brain, formed by collections of closely connected neurons (cliques) and empty spaces (cavities) between them.
“We found a surprisingly large number and variety of multidimensional directional slits and troughs that had not previously been seen in neural networks, both biological and artificial,” the team writes in the study.
“Algebraic topology is like a telescope and a microscope at the same time. She can zoom in on networks to find hidden structures, trees in the forest and see empty spaces, clearings, all at the same time,” says EPFL mathematician Katherine Hess.
These gaps or cavities appear to be critical to brain function. When the researchers gave their virtual brain tissue a stimulus, they saw that the neurons responded to it in a highly organized way.
These results provide a new picture of how the brain processes information, but the researchers note that it is not yet clear what causes cliques and cavities to form in very specific ways.
More work will be needed to determine how the complexity of these multidimensional geometric shapes formed by our neurons correlates with the complexity of various cognitive tasks.
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