"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