Connections of axons (or nerve fibers) between the sections of the brain look more like a “chess board” than a “ball” or a “plate of spaghetti”, claims a recent study, which did a detailed imaging of the brain wiring.
Using the latest techniques of recording the flow of water molecules in the brain, scientists revealed a simple and almost geometric architecture of the nerve fiber net, which has been nominated “the most complex thing in the known universe.”
Researchers at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging of Massachusetts General Hospital, led by Dr. Van Wedeen, published their findings in the Science magazine.
Experts received three-dimensional images that resemble a cubic lattice without diagonals. As they said, the brain is far from being a mess of neural wirings, as their connections look more like ribbon cables forming right angles to each other.
Scientists hope that the more clear the brain map becomes, the more easy will be the treatment of pathological deviations in the wiring of the neural system, and thus the diagnosis and the treatment of various diseases (especially neurological) will be more timely.
As the brain develops in early childhood, the connections between its parts evolve mostly on vertical and horizontal axes. This lattice structure seems to continuously guide neural wirings as highways, which are not popping up in every direction, but to the left, to the right, up or down. In this way, as estimated by neuroscientists, the brain has found a regular, organized and efficient way to evolve and adapt.
Axons form a part of the white matter and allow different specialized brain regions to communicate and coordinate their actions and reactions. In the gray matter, on the surface of the brain, the axon net is more irregular and non-geometric. The deeper you go, the more neat the structure of the neural plexus shows.
However, some scientists stay cautious and consider premature and simplistic the revealed architecture of the brain wiring, as the used technique was applied to a small part of the brain. Many sceptics believe that in other parts of the brain axons are connected with different ways apart from the rectangular one.