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The brain builds strange structures in 11 dimensions

The brain continues to amaze us with its magnificentcomplexity. Pioneering research combining neurobiology with mathematics suggests that when the brain processes information, it creates neural structures up to 11 dimensions. By "dimensions", scientists mean abstract mathematical spaces, not other physical areas. However, the researchers “found a world that we could not imagine,” said Big Think Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain project, author of the new discovery.

The work of the brain is the greatest mystery of science

The brain builds sand castles

The goal of the Blue Brain project, which is based inSwitzerland, is the digital creation of a “biologically detailed” simulation of the human brain. By creating a digital brain with an “unprecedented” level of biological information, scientists are striving to advance our understanding of the incredibly complex structure of the human brain, in which there are about 86 billion neurons.

To get a clearer picture ofhow such a huge network works to form our thoughts and actions, scientists used supercomputers and a special branch of mathematics. The team based its ongoing research on a digital neocortex model, which it completed in 2015. Researchers wanted to figure out how this digital neocortex reacts using the mathematical system of algebraic topology. This allowed them to determine that our brain constantly creates very complex multidimensional geometric shapes and spaces that look like “sand castles”.

Neocortex or the new bark is the newest external departmentbrain or rational brain. He is responsible for higher cognitive functions (speech, writing, problem solving), and also controls analytical and mathematical thinking.

Without use algebraic topology - a section of mathematics that describes systems withby any number of dimensions, visualization of a multidimensional network would be impossible. Using a new mathematical approach, researchers were able to see a high degree of organization in what used to seem to be “chaotic” patterns of neurons.

Algebraic topology is like a telescope andmicroscope at the same time: it can zoom in on the network to find hidden structures - trees in the forest - and see empty spaces - glades - all at the same time.

Study author Katherine Hess.

During the study, scientists first conducted tests on the virtual brain tissue they created, and then confirmed the results by conducting the same experiments on real brain tissue from laboratory rats. During stimulation, each virtual neuron connects to another in such a way that a certain geometric object is formed - a clique. A large number of neurons added moremeasurements, the number of which in some cases reached 11. These structures were supposed to form around a high-dimensional hole, which the researchers called the “cavity”. After the brain processed the information, the clique and cavity disappeared.

Left: digital copy of a part of the neocortex, the most developed part of the brain. Right: figures of various sizes and geometries, representing structures in the range from 1 measurement to 7 measurements or more. The "black hole" in the middle symbolizes a complex of multidimensional spaces - cavities.

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The appearance of high-dimensional cavities when the brainprocesses information, means that neurons in the network respond to stimuli in an extremely organized manner. It is like a brain responding to a stimulus by building and then destroying a tower of multidimensional blocks, starting from rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D etc. The progressive activity of the brain resembles a multidimensional sand castle, which materializes from sand and then disintegrates.

This discovery allows scientists to better understand “oneof the fundamental secrets of neurobiology is the connection between the structure of the brain and how it processes information, ”said Kathryn Hess in an interview with Newsweek magazine.

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Researchers hope to useAlgebraic topography for studying the role of “neuroplasticity,” which is the process of strengthening and weakening neural connections during stimulation, is a key component of the brain's learning process. They see the further application of their discoveries in the study of human intelligence and the formation of memory. The work was published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.