Key Takeaways:

  1. A groundbreaking study by the Blue Brain Project reveals that the human brain consists of intricate multi-dimensional geometrical structures.
  2. Neurons, the brain’s signal-transmitting cells, form these structures called cliques, with some reaching up to eleven dimensions.
  3. The researchers employed algebraic topology to create virtual brain models, which were tested against real brain tissue.
  4. Stimuli prompt the formation of high-dimensional cliques in the brain, indicating organized neural responses.
  5. These multi-dimensional structures could potentially hold the key to understanding where memories are stored in the brain.

The intricacies of the human brain, one of nature’s most complex structures, have long eluded full comprehension. However, a recent breakthrough study from the Blue Brain Project is propelling us closer to unraveling this enigma. By utilizing complex computer models, researchers have reimagined the brain as a realm of ‘multi-dimensional’ geometrical structures and spaces, shedding light on its inner workings and even hinting at where memories might be stored.

This profound exploration, led by neuroscientist Henry Markram, the director of the Blue Brain Project, and a professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, has uncovered a world within the brain that was previously unimaginable. They’ve identified tens of millions of these multi-dimensional objects within even the tiniest regions of the brain, spanning up to seven dimensions in some networks and up to eleven in others. These structures emerge when groups of neurons, the brain’s signal-transmitting cells, form something known as a “clique.” Each neuron connects to every other in the group in a specific way, creating these complex objects.

It’s essential to clarify that these structures do not exist in more than three spatial dimensions; rather, it’s the mathematics used to describe them that extends beyond three dimensions. In essence, high-dimensional spaces are employed in mathematics to elucidate complex data structures or systems’ conditions, capturing the various degrees of freedom a system possesses.

To make sense of this complex network within the brain, the research team mapped it to a mathematical universe. This mapping allowed them to identify precisely defined high-dimensional objects that hold the key to understanding the brain’s structure and function. Using algebraic topology, a mathematical branch, they modeled these structures within a virtual brain created by a computer. Subsequently, experiments were conducted on real brain tissue to validate their findings.

When a stimulus was introduced into the virtual brain tissue, cliques of progressively higher dimensions began to form. In between these cliques, the researchers discovered holes or cavities. This occurrence suggested that the neurons in the network react to stimuli in an extraordinarily organized manner. It’s akin to the brain responding to stimuli by constructing and deconstructing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, from one-dimensional rods to two-dimensional planks, three-dimensional cubes, and more intricate geometries with four or more dimensions. This progression mirrors a multi-dimensional sandcastle materializing and then disintegrating in the brain.

The next significant step is to determine the practical role these structures play in the brain’s functioning. For instance, it could potentially answer one of neuroscience’s longstanding mysteries: the storage location of memories. Markram speculates that memories might be ‘hidden’ within these high-dimensional cavities, offering a tantalizing prospect for future research into the inner workings of the mind. This breakthrough opens new avenues in neuroscience, pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the complex universe that exists inside our heads.

Read full article on WIRED

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