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New map IDs the core of the human brain
Date:6/30/2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An international team of researchers has created the first complete high-resolution map of how millions of neural fibers in the human cerebral cortex -- the outer layer of the brain responsible for higher level thinking -- connect and communicate. Their groundbreaking work identified a single network core, or hub, that may be key to the workings of both hemispheres of the brain.

The work by the researchers from Indiana University, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne, Switzerland, and Harvard Medical School marks a major step in understanding the most complicated and mysterious organ in the human body. It not only provides a comprehensive map of brain connections (the brain "connectome"), but also describes a novel application of a non-invasive technique that can be used by other scientists to continue mapping the trillions of neural connections in the brain at even greater resolution, which is becoming a new field of science termed "connectomics."

"This is one of the first steps necessary for building large-scale computational models of the human brain to help us understand processes that are difficult to observe, such as disease states and recovery processes to injuries," said Olaf Sporns, co-author of the study and neuroscientist at Indiana University.

The findings appear in the journal PLoS Biology today (June 30). Co-authors include Patric Hagmann and Reto Meuli, University Hospital Center and University of Lausanne; Leila Cammoun and Xavier Gigandet, Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne; Van J. Wedeen, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical Center; and Christopher J. Honey, IU.

Until now, scientists have mostly used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to measure brain activity -- locating which parts of the brain become active during perception or cognition -- but there has been little understanding of the role o
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Contact: Olaf Sporns
osporns@indiana.edu
812-855-2772
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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