Navigation Links
Brains, worms and computer chips have striking similarities

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) An international team of scientists has discovered striking similarities between the human brain, the nervous system of a worm, and a computer chip. The finding is reported in the journal PloS Computational Biology today.

"Brains are often compared to computers, but apart from the trivial fact that both process information using a complex pattern of connections in a physical space, it has been unclear whether this is more than just a metaphor," said Danielle Bassett, first author and a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Physics at UC Santa Barbara.

The team of scientists from the U.S., the U.K., and Germany has uncovered novel quantitative organizational principles that underlie the network organizations of the human brain, high performance computer circuits, and the nervous system of the worm, known as nematode C. elegans. Using data that is largely in the public domain, including magnetic resonance imaging data from human brains, a map of the nematode's nervous system, and a standard computer chip, they examined how the elements in each system are networked together.

They found that all three shared two basic properties. First, the human brain, the nematode's nervous system, and the computer chip all have a Russian doll-like architecture, with the same patterns repeating over and over again at different scales.

Second, all three showed what is known as Rent's scaling, a rule used to describe the relationship between the number of elements in a given area and the number of links between them.

Worm brains may seem to have very little in common with human brains and even less in common with computer circuits, explained Bassett. In fact, each of these systems contains a pattern of connections that are locked solidly in a physical space, similar to how the tracks in a railway system are locked solidly to the ground, forming traffic paths that have fixed GPS coordinates. A computer chip starts out as an abstract connectivity pattern, which can perform a specific function. Stage two involves mapping that connectivity pattern onto the two-dimensional surface of the chip. This mapping is a key step and must be done carefully in order to minimize the total length of wires a powerful predictor of the cost of manufacturing a chip while maintaining the abstract connectivity or function.

"Brains are similarly characterized by a precise connectivity which allows the organism to function, but are constrained by the metabolic costs associated with the development and maintenance of long 'wires,' or neurons," said Bassett. She explained that, given the similar constraints in brains and chips, it seems that both evolution and technological innovation have developed the same solutions to optimal mapping patterns.

She explained that this scaling result may further explain a well-known but little-understood relationship between the processing elements (neuronal cell bodies, or gray matter) and wiring (axons, or white matter) in the brains of a wide range of differently sized mammals from mouse to opossum to sea lion further suggesting that these principles of nervous system design are highly conserved across species.

This work suggests that market-driven human invention and natural selection have negotiated trade-offs between cost and complexity in designing both types of information processing network: brains and computer circuits.

Bassett worked closely with Edward Bullmore, professor of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. He explained: "These striking similarities can probably be explained because they represent the most efficient way of wiring a complex network in a confined physical space be that a three-dimensional human brain or a two-dimensional computer chip."


Contact: Gail Gallessich
University of California - Santa Barbara

Related biology news :

1. Bone-eating worms 30 million years old
2. Scientists find new genes for cancer, other diseases in plants, yeast and worms
3. More than fish bait: Worms unlock secrets to new epilepsy treatments
4. Pinhead-size worms + robot = new antibiotics
5. Parasitic worms make sex worthwhile
6. Ancient geologic escape hatches mistaken for tube worms
7. Key to curing obesity may lie in worms that destroy their own fat: McGill researchers
8. Deprived of a sense of smell, worms live longer
9. Floridas worm grunters collect bait worms by inadvertently imitating mole sounds
10. Longevity, cancer and diet connected: New research in worms could apply to humans
11. Almost 7 million pregnant in sub-Saharan Africa infected with hookworms; at risk of anaemia
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Brains, worms and computer chips have striking similarities
(Date:4/13/2017)... PUNE, India , April 13, 2017 According ... Identity Proofing, Identity Authentication, Identity Analytics, Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication ... by MarketsandMarkets™, the IAM Market is expected to grow from USD 14.30 ... Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.3%. ... ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ:   NXTD ... the appointment of independent Directors Mr. Robin D. Richards ... of Directors, furthering the company,s corporate governance and expertise. ... Gino Pereira , Chief ... to their guidance and benefiting from their considerable expertise as ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... KEY FINDINGS The global market for stem ... 25.76% during the forecast period of 2017-2025. The rise ... growth of the stem cell market. Download ... The global stem cell market is segmented on the ... cell market of the product is segmented into adult ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... analysis platform specifically designed for life science researchers to analyze and interpret ... Rosalind Franklin, who made a major contribution to the discovery of the ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... YORBA LINDA, CA (PRWEB) , ... October 11, ... ... adapted to upregulate any gene in its endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and ... activation (CRISPRa) system with small RNA guides is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnline’s Medical Device Summit is back for its 4th ... in San Francisco, CA. The Summit brings together current and former FDA office bearers, ... and government officials from around the world to address key issues in device compliance, ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... 11, 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient ... Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch this week. ... among health care professionals to enhance the patient care experience ... and other health care professionals to help women who have ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: