How the Brain Is Wired
Using a special type of MRI scanner, scientists have discovered the elegant logic of the human brain's circuitry. In a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and published in the March 30 issue of the journal Science, the researchers reported that our gray matter is organized in a simple 3D grid structure.
Study author Dr. Van Wedeen of Massachusetts General Hospital, A.A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Harvard Medical School explained in an NIMH news release that 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." He added that the brain may be so flexible that it constantly rewires itself as the need arises.
The new look at the brain's wiring is considered a milestone. According to HealthDay, the NIMH director Dr. Thomas Insel said that "this new technology may reveal individual differences in brain connections that could aid diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders."
"Before, we had just driving directions. Now, we have a map showing how all the highways and byways are interconnected," HealthDay quoted Wedeen as saying.