The Universe in Your Mind
The Blue Brain Project has come up with a model in which the brain is described as a structure made up of multi-dimensional spaces and constructions.
A new study has the answer to understanding our brains better, as it brings to us a model of the brain being a structure of complex spaces. The study could even give us a clue to answering questions such as where in our mind memories are made.
The brain, especially the human brain, is a highly complex organ and science is far from understanding the intricacies of its complexity. A team of scientists working on the Blue Brain Project is working toward understanding the brain better using computer models.
The most recent model has shown the brain to be a structure of multi-dimensional spaces and constructions.
“We found a world that we had never imagined,” said neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.
These structures exist in innumerable numbers, up to the seventh dimension, in the tiniest fleck of the brain. In some parts of the neural network, there were structures present as high as the eleventh dimension.
These structures, or constructions, are created when a group of neurons comes together to form a clique. Each neuron connects to every neuron in the clique to form a new structure. As many neurons exist in the brain, as do the number of structures.
And in each clique, the more the neurons, the more complex the structure and the more the dimensions it consists of.
Do note that these dimensions are three-dimensional only if looked at in space. It is only the complexity of the structure and the mathematics in calculating these dimensions that are used to name them as higher than three dimensions.
As Professor Cees van Leeuwen puts it, multi-dimensions are also used to describe highly functional constructions or systems outside of physics. Working at KU Leuven, Belgium, Professor Leeuwen is a reviewer of the study and states that an example of such a structure is the state of systems in state space.
This space is described as a union of the various levels of freedom in the system and the state is basically the value of freedom afforded to these spaces.
With an organ like the brain that is so highly complex in its connections, the researchers aim to compare it to objects that they are comfortable with so that its working can be better understood, says Ran Levi of Aberdeen University, also one of the teams who worked on the paper. He stresses that without the comparison, you would only see a collection of trees, or neurons working randomly.
Levi said that they mapped the construction within the neural network of the brain with the known universe, thus allowing them to look at it from points of view of multi-dimensional objects, leading them to better understand the brain’s own constructions and functioning.
A method called as algebraic topology was applied to the model in a virtual brain structure that was created on a computer and experiments were conducted on live brain tissue to see the effects.
When a stimulus was applied to the virtual brain, the neurons formed subsequently higher dimensions of cliques, with spaces or cavities in between them.
Levi said that this activity of forming high-dimensional holes in the brain tissue when the brain was working on processing data meant that the neurons were reacting to the stimulus in a highly defined manner. The brain appears to construct and demolish structures of multi-dimensional units in response to the stimuli, going progressively from simple structures of 1D ( imagine rods) to 2D to 3D to more and more complex structures of higher dimensions of up to 7D (imagine multi-storey buildings).This progression is comparable to sandcastles of multiple levels and outcroppings, only for it to fall apart at the next wave.
The next part of the research will focus on the practical role of these constructions occurring within the brain. When attempting to understand how the brain creates and stores memories, the spaces within these cliques may also offer a clue.
As Markram puts is, data may be ‘hiding’ in these cavities.
The research is published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.