Friday, August 10, 2012

Blueprint For The Brain

How can three pounds of jelly inside our skulls enable us to do everything that makes us human?

For centuries, scientists have been fascinated and puzzled by the mysterious workings of the brain.

Now, for the first time, they can re-create in the computer the shapes of every one of the billions of nerve cells that make up our brains, the component parts of the intricate neural circuits that allow us to move, see and hear, to feel and to think.

Armed with this new tool, scientists are beginning to decipher the secrets of the brain’s architecture, which may one day enable us to build smart technologies that surpass the capabilities of anything we have today.

This video is based on "One Rule to Grow Them All: A General Theory of Neuronal Branching and Its Practical Application," a paper published by neuroscientist Hermann Cuntz and colleagues in the online journal PLoS Computational Biology.

Brain Wiring A No-Brainer

No tangles! The human brain's connections turn out to be a an orderly 3D grid structure with no diagonals.

2D sheets of parallel fibers cross at right angles -- " like the warp and weft of a fabric."

The first pictures from the most powerful brain scanner of its kind reveal an "astonishingly simple architecture."

This diffusion spectrum image of a whole human brain came from the new Connectom scanner, part of the NIH's Human Connectome Project. Source: Van Wedeen, M.D., Martinos Center and Dept. of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University Medical School

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