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

f the underlying anatomy in generating this activity. What is known of neural fiber connections and pathways has largely been learned from animal studies, and so far, no complete map of brain connections in the human brain exists.

In this new study, a team of neuroimaging researchers led by Hagmann used state-of-the-art diffusion MRI technology, which is a non-invasive scanning technique that estimates fiber connection trajectories based on gradient maps of the diffusion of water molecules through brain tissue. A highly sensitive variant of the method, called diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI), can depict the orientation of multiple fibers that cross a single location. The study applies this technique to the entire human cortex, resulting in maps of millions of neural fibers running throughout this highly furrowed part of the brain.

Sporns then carried out a computational analysis trying to identify regions of the brain that played a more central role in the connectivity, serving as hubs in the cortical network. Surprisingly, these analyses revealed a single highly and densely connected structural core in the brain of all participants.

"We found that the core, the most central part of the brain, is in the medial posterior portion of the cortex, and it straddles both hemispheres," Sporns said. "This wasn't known before. Researchers have been interested in this part of the brain for other reasons. For example, when you're at rest, this area uses up a lot of metabolic energy, but until now it hasn't been clear why."

The researchers then asked whether the structural connections of the brain in fact shape its dynamic activity, Sporns said. The study examined the brains of five human participants who were imaged using both fMRI and DSI techniques to compare how closely the brain activity observed in the fMRI mapped to the underlying fiber networks.

"It turns out they're quite closely related," Sporns said. "We can measure a
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Contact: Olaf Sporns
osporns@indiana.edu
812-855-2772
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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New map IDs the core of the human brain
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