Brain connections like the Internet
LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- A U.S. study of brain circuitry suggests neural connections are democratic, a task-sharing network of equality rather than a top-down pyramid model
The University of Southern California study contradicts traditional views that the brain is organized as a hierarchy, with most areas feeding into the "higher" centers of conscious thought, ScienceDaily.com reported Monday
The study lends support to a more recent model of the brain as a flat network similar to the Internet, where all of the parts talk to each other directly and equally
Until recently the network of brain connections was thought too complex to describe, but molecular biology and computing methods have made it possible for the National Institutes of Health to announce a $30 million plan to map the human "connectome," similar to the effort that mapped the human genome
USC scientists studied rat brains to trace their circuitry
"We started in one place and looked at the connections," neuroscientist Larry W. Swanson said. "It led into a very complicated series of loops and circuits
"It's not an organizational chart. There's no top and bottom to it," he said
The "Internet" model would explain the brain's ability to overcome a lot of local damage, Swanson said. "You can knock out almost any single part of the Internet and the rest of it works"
Similarly, Swanson said, "There are usually alternate pathways through the nervous system. It's very hard to say that any one part is absolutely essential"
ArcaMax Science & Technology Ezine