“We found a world that we had never imagined. 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. There is a multidimensional universe inside our tiny brain.” said neuroscientist Henry Markram, director of Blue Brain Project and professor at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.
An international group of scientists gathered around the Blue Brain project has obtained results never before seen in the world of neuroscience, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience. This team managed to find structures in the brain that present a multidimensional universe, uncovering the first geometric design of neural connections and how they respond to stimuli.
Human brains are estimated to be home to a staggering 86 billion neurons, with several connections from each cell webbing in every possible direction, forming a super-vast cellular network that somehow makes us capable of thought and consciousness. Scientists made use of in-depth computer modeling techniques to understand how exactly human brain cells are able to organize themselves in order to carry out complex tasks. Researchers used mathematical models of algebraic topology to describe structures and multidimensional geometric spaces in brain networks. In the study, it is denoted that structures are formed at the same time that they are interlaced in a “union” that generates a precise geometric structure.
As noted by experts, every neuron inside of our brain is able to interconnect to a neighboring one, in a specific way to form an object with complex connections. Interestingly, the more neurons join in with the clique, the more dimensions are thus added to the object. Using algebraic topology, scientists were able to model the structure within a virtual brain, generated with the help of computers. Afterward, scientists carried out experiments on real brain tissue to verify the results.
After scientists added stimulus into the virtual brain tissue, they discovered that cliques of progressively higher dimensions assembled. They found that in between these cliques were holes or cavities. “The appearance of high-dimensional cavities when the brain is processing information means that the neurons in the network react to stimuli in an extremely organized manner.”
“It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubrainbes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.”
The next step will be to see what practical role these structures play in the . For example, neuroscience has also been struggling to find where the brain stores its memories, and the holes could be a solution. “They may be ‘hiding’ in high-dimensional cavities,” Markram speculates.