“Our brain,” according to Psychology Today in 2014, “is the most complex machine that ever existed. With over 7.146 billion models it is also the most ubiquitous. Despite this, we are unsure of its complexity.”
In 1907, some of the earliest human cortex drawings were created, based on what a German neurologist could see under a microscope. His map contained 52 brain regions and scientists have relied upon that mapping for more than a century, along with others developed since.
In 2009, the activity of the brain was measured with astounding results. It was discovered that the human adult male has 86 billion neurons in his brain. When you calculate that each neuron has 1,000 to 10,000 synapses, that means a human male’s cerebral cortex gives off 125 TRILLION synapses. For comparison purposes, that’s 1,000+ times higher than the galaxy’s number of stars. In ONE brain.
A brand-new brain map has been created, one that could prove very beneficial to neurosurgeons during brain surgeries. In this study – published on July 20, 2016 – 210 healthy young men underwent “multi-modal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional MRI scans” in research conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine and the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Using an “objective, semi-automated neuroanatomical approach,” they found 360 distinct brain segments, half on each side, with “sharp changes in cortical architecture, function, connectivity, and/or topography.”
Researchers identified 97 new areas of the brain and used a machine learning classifier to create a fingerprint of every area in the cortex. This classifier could then correctly identify 96.6 percent of cortical areas in new participants, as well as flag atypical findings.
The lead author of this newly published brain study believes the number of areas will ultimately be greater because some cortex patches will most likely be subdivided with knowledge gleaned by future technology and techniques. The areas they did identify, though, are expected to “stand the test of time.”
Each distinct area of the brain on this new map contain cells similar to one another in structure, connectivity, and function. Scientists will be encouraged to obtain the maps to study on their computers and “explore as they see fit.”
As this study conclusively proved, the human brain is extremely complex. This added insight into regions of the brain will fuel significant neuroscientific research, with discoveries surely affecting how doctors and surgeons will address brain abnormalities in the future.
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