A study published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience has revealed that the human brain’s structures operate in up to 11 dimensions.
The dimensions are not understood as the classic definition of a dimension, that of which most of us understand.
Conducted by the Blue Brain Project, scientists discovered fascinating new details about the complexity of the human brain.
“We found a world that we had never imagined,” explained neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.
A universe of multidimensional structures inside the brain
The image attempts to illustrate something that cannot be imaged — a universe of multi-dimensional structures and spaces. On the left is a digital copy of a part of the neocortex, the most evolved part of the brain. On the right are shapes of different sizes and geometries in an attempt to represent structures ranging from 1 dimension to 7 dimensions and beyond. The “black-hole” in the middle is used to symbolize a complex of multi-dimensional spaces, or cavities. Researchers at Blue Brain Project report groups of neurons bound into such cavities provide the missing link between neural structure and function, in their new study published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. Image Credit: Blue Brain Project.
“There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions,” Markram added.
By studying the human brain, researchers discovered that traditional mathematical views were not applicable and ineffective.
“The mathematics usually applied to study networks cannot detect the high-dimensional structures and spaces that we now see clearly,” Markram revealed.
Instead, scientists decided to give algebraic topology a go.
Algebraic topology is a branch of mathematics that uses tools from abstract algebra to study topological spaces.
Scientists from the Blue Brain Project were assisted by mathematicians Kathryn Hess from EPFL and Ran Levi from Aberdeen University in applying this discipline in their new study.
“Algebraic topology is like a telescope and microscope at the same time. It can zoom into networks to find hidden structures – the trees in the forest – and see the empty spaces – the clearings – all at the same time,” explained professor Hess.
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