Atlantic Cities

Grid of the Day: The Brain

Grid of the Day: The Brain

This is your brain on urban planning.

In a new study in Science, researchers looked at the network of fibers that carry signals from one part of the brain to the other. They unocvered a remarkably organized three-dimensional grid. According to study author Van Wedeen, the grid is a little like Manhattan "with streets running in two dimension and then the elevators in the buildings in the third dimension."

According to NPR:

Of course the human brain has a lot of folds and curves. So, Wedeen says, you have to imagine Manhattan bent into some odd shapes. But the underlying grid doesn't change. The streets intersect at 90-degree angles and the buildings rise vertically.

The grid represents a big change from the traditional model of the brain's wiring, Wedeen says. In that model, he says, "the brain looked somewhat like a plate of spaghetti or perhaps like one of those old antique telephone switchboards with a million wires running more or less at random."

 This apparently helps explain how a small number of genes could code something as complex as the human brain.

Photo credit: MGH-UCLA Human Connectome Project

 

 

 

 

Keywords: New York, Grid, Brain

Amanda Erickson is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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