Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hot Brain

PLoS Biology
In today’s New York Times:
“The new report, published in the free-access online journal PLoS Biology, provides the most complete rough draft to date of the cortex’s electrical architecture, the cluster of interconnected nodes and hubs that help guide thinking and behavior. The paper also provides a striking demonstration of how new imaging techniques focused on the brain’s white matter — the connections between cells, rather than the neurons themselves — are filling in a dimension of human brain function that has been all but dark.”
PLoS Biology
This is literally a wiring diagram: a new tool for psychiatrists perhaps? This professor is really excited:
“This is just about the coolest paper I’ve seen in a long time, and forward-looking in terms of where the science is going,” said Dr. Marcus E. Raichle, a professor of neurology and radiology at Washington University in St. Louis.
The study was a collaboration that included the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, Harvard and Indiana University using a new technique called diffusion spectrum imaging.
PLoS Biology
For those interested read the full article in PLoS Biology and they should have the last words:

Future improvements in diffusion imaging and tractography, as well as computational network analysis, will no doubt reveal additional features of the connectional anatomy of the human brain. It will be important to include major subcortical regions, such as the thalamus, into future network analyses. Another advance would be to parcellate cortex not on the basis of sulcal and gyral landmarks, but rather on the basis of regularities in functional connections that are observed in individual participants [49,50].

Our data provide evidence for the existence of a structural core in human cerebral cortex. This complex of densely connected regions in posterior medial cortex is both spatially and topologically central within the brain. Its anatomical correspondence with regions of high metabolic activity and with some elements of the human default network suggests that the core may be an important structural basis for shaping large-scale brain dynamics. The availability of single-participant structural and functional connection maps now provides the opportunity to investigate interparticipant connectional variability and to relate it to differences in individual functional connectivity and behavior.

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