March 29, 2012

Mapping the Brain

From a glance, the brain may seem like an extremely complex structure with nerve endings strung out everywhere.  However, a recent study that included mapping the white matter of the brain shows that the connections in the brain are actually highly organized.  White matter is the bundle of nerve fibers that allow different brain regions to communicate and coordinate with one another.  The fibers form a grid-like structure which neatly blended together and are not a jumbled mess.  Scientists believe the reason for the way of growth is due to chemical signals that guide axon growth during brain development.  Additionally, it appeared that the grids were most regular in deep brain structures including neural pathways that were involved in emotion and memory.  Although scientists speculate that the grid-like structure exists, they are not a hundred percent certain and more testing needs to be completed.

The mapping of the human brain is a monumental achievement.  The development of the white-matter network in children could eventually one day help to provide insight into neurological conditions such as autism and other mental complications.

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